It is one thing when a company gets an upcoming feature or product leaked. It is another thing entirely when the company itself leaks the upcoming feature or product. That appears to be what happened late on Friday with Google Play Books.
Both online and in the Android app, a banner in the Play Books store promoting the coming of Audiobooks to the store and a 50% discount on your first purchase. I, unfortunately, didn’t capture the banner but the folks over at 9to5 Google did and you can see it here.
Rumors have been floating about for a while now that Google would be adding Audiobooks to the Google Play Books store at some point but nothing concrete has come up on it until this banner popped. It almost surely means they are coming and the banner, which lead to a link that was not working, was a mistake pushed out by the company.
Related to this, on Saturday, an update to the Google Play Books app for Android was released. It ramps up the version to 4.0 and, while on the surface nothing appears to have changed, deeper dives into the code suggests that it is the version needed for Audiobooks to work. Having this build of the app, which will take a few weeks to get to everyone’s account, and then Google will likely throw the cloud-side switch to enable the feature in the app.
Audiobooks have been an ever increasingly popular way to consume books as people can listen while on-the-go. When we will actually see audiobooks in the store is anyone’s guess. It is likely not going to be long now given that the horse has literally left the barn.