Who knew? The Google Play Books Chrome app has an offline mode.

IMG_20151104_130132A new tablet arrived yesterday: an HP Stream 7, which set me back a whopping $60 at Woot.  After letting it update itself from Windows 8.1 to Windows 10 (yes, it runs Windows, not Android or iOS) and putting Chrome and a few other apps on it, I set out to find a decent ebook reader.  Ideally, it’d support ePub and would sync bookmarks between existing devices.

I have been using Google Play Books to share my collection between Android and iOS devices.  Apps are available for both to download part or all of your collection for offline reading; bookmarks are synced when online.  Unfortunately, there’s no dedicated Windows app…but it turns out that’s not a problem.

After trying several ebook apps for Windows and finding them wanting in one measure or another, I ran across references to a couple of things I didn’t know about:

  • Google Play Books is available as a Chrome app
  • The Chrome app can use HTML5 local storage to hold selected ebooks for offline reading

Sweet!  The only tricky part now was selecting books for offline reading.  You’re supposed to hover the mouse pointer over the title you want to download, then click a “make available offline” checkbox that pops up.  Without a mouse, though, you can’t hover over anything.

That’s where a program called TouchMousePointer comes into play.  It converts part of the screen area into a touchpad, and puts up a mouse pointer that you can hover over the books you want to download.  It’s easily toggled off most of the time, but is there if you need more precise positioning than your fingers can deliver (as apps written with a mouse in mind might need).

IMG_20151104_130807Here’s the end result…note that the tablet’s in airplane mode.  The screen doesn’t really look like that; it’s some weird interaction between it and the camera in my phone that you’re seeing.