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Android A to Z: Google Play

Today on Android A to Z we're going to talk about Google Play. If you're new to Android, you see us throw it around a lot when talking about downloading apps, but there's a good bit more to it, and we think there's even more planned. It's much more than a name for Android's official application store, and it's worth having a good long look at it.

Looking at the Google Play store on your phone or on the web, you'll see categories of the different types of media Google has to offer. There are Music, Apps, Books, and Movies -- and one more treat we'll get to in a minute. At each section of the Play store you'll find media for your Android device, sometimes free, sometimes not free. For the things you'll need to pay for there's Google Wallet (the service, not the Android app) and if you're downloading from your Android phone some carriers support direct billing. Shopping is pretty straightforward, you browse the sections by category, and when you find something you want, you simply tap a button and it gets downloaded to your device. As long as the content is available in your region (that's a sore spot Google needs to work out), and you have the correct application (Books and Movies use an Android app you can get free from the Applications section of the Google Play store), things are pretty instant and pretty simple.

One really cool thing we never seem to remember to talk about is downloading apps from the web on your computer directly to your Android device. Using a regular hyperlink to the Google Play store, like this one for Dropbox, you'll find a handy install button you can click to install it to your phone or tablet. If you have more than one Android device, you'll get to choose which on to install it to. Books, Movies and Music work the same way -- once installed from the web they are instantly available on your Android device(s). This type of integration between the web interface and the phone version is pretty awesome, and makes for easy shopping.

There's one more section of the Google Play store. You won't see it from your phone, and it's the latest (and most exciting) section of Google Play. It's the Devices section. Right now you can buy a factory unlocked Galaxy Nexus, as well as a few accessories, direct from Google. The cupboards looks pretty bare now, but we have a feeling it may soon have more to offer, and we'll see phones, tablets, Google TV units and related accessories there for sale.

Google seems pretty dedicated to their new Google Play branding, and so far it's worked well. Android is turning into it's own ecosystem, and as dedicated Android enthusiasts we're excited to see how it all plays out!

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Jerry Hildenbrand
Jerry Hildenbrand

Jerry is an amateur woodworker and struggling shade tree mechanic. There's nothing he can't take apart, but many things he can't reassemble. You'll find him writing and speaking his loud opinion on Android Central and occasionally on Twitter.

  • I still think that only being able to rent movies is silly and limits the potential of the Movies section within Google Play. Why rent movies on Google Play, if by paying a slight bit more you can get a months worth of access to tons of different movies through Netflix? You only get a 24 hour window to watch your movie on Google Play once you initially view it, and it only works on unrooted devices. Google should either add a buy option that works for all devices for unlimited streaming, or a buy option that allows you to actually download the movie (I'd prefer it this way so I could use the files the way I want to and not have to be connected to the Internet). /rant
  • also you can buy digital versions of movies elsewhere for 5-15 dollars. its ridiculous to pay 5 to7 dollars for movies or hd movies. I have a BB and rent 8-10 movies a month in mail for $16 a month. Competitive prices are nedded, and the ability to buy the movies with extra features.
  • Know what I find odd? They sell books and audio downloads, but not audio books. Do they have a deal with Audiable or something?
  • Doubt it audible is owened by amazon.
  • Nice to see GSM Galaxy Nexus accessories available. Wish there was a cheaper option for shipping though.
  • Google's Play Store is still a mess if you live outside of the US. In Puerto Rico you are only given the choice to buy books and music or rent movies if you do it over the cellular network but via Wi-Fi you can only buy apps and that only if you're using a phone. If your device is a Wi-Fi tablet, you can only download free apps but you can't purchase apps. It's a huge mess that Google shows no interest in fixing, and one that Apple doesn't have.