Google has updated its Google Play Books iOS app adding a useful feature: optical character recognition- (OCR)-based search.

This handy addition makes it possible for users to search through the original scanned pages of e-books downloaded and housed within the free app. There are a number of specialist e-books I use that are best loaded as scanned pages, rather than digitized text, and as such this feature is definitely something I'll appreciate.

But a word of warning: OCR-based search isn't as accurate as conventional digital text searching, and it's more than likely that the results put forward by Google Play Books could sometimes be off-target.

This year, Google has added support for rental textbooks, single sign-on, and support for personal PDF and ePub files to Google Play Books. The app works well, yet of course it faces strong competition not only from Amazon's Kindle apps, but also from Apple's own iBooks app and its accompanying iBookstore.

Google Play Books can be downloaded in the App Store free of charge, and is optimized for the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch.

If you're interested in Google's presence on iOS, you may be interested to hear that a bunch of popular iOS apps are set to get Chromecast support in time for the holidays. Book lovers should also check out our weekly Shelf Control column.

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