What Is Google Play?

Everything you need to know about the Android one-stop-shop

Two people checking out an Android phone pointing to the Google Play icon

 Allison Joyce / Stringer / Getty Images

Google Play is your one-stop-shop for Android apps, games, music, movie rentals and purchases, and e-books. On Android devices, the Google Play Store app offers access to the entire range of Google Play offerings. Standard apps appear in the Android system tray, but Games, Music, Books, and Movies and TV are all libraries of downloadable content.

Apps on Google Play are intended for Android devices regardless of the manufacturer, whether it's Samsung, Google, Huawei, Xiaomi, etc. Some apps do require certain hardware features, however.

Google Play's History

Google Play was launched on March 6, 2012, bringing together the previous Android marketplaces (Android Market, Google Music, and the Google eBookstore), under one brand.

Google Play used to offer a Devices tab in the Play Store, but as Google's device offerings expanded and required more customer support, the company spun off devices into their own location called the Google Store. Now, Google Play is strictly for downloadable apps and content.

Google Play used to offer Chrome apps, as well, but now Chrome apps are exclusively available in the Chrome Web Store. However, you can still use the Google Play store in Chrome environments.

Google Play Offerings

Google Play divides its content into Apps, Music, Books, and Movies and TV. Download content directly onto an Android device through the Play Store or deploy the application to a device from the Google Play website.

Apps

The number of available apps in the Google Play Store was most recently placed at 2.8 million, after surpassing 1 million apps in July 2013. Some applications can take advantage of a device's hardware capabilities, such as apps that employ a motion sensor (for motion-dependent games) or a front-facing camera (for online video calling). 

Google Play apps home page

Music

The Music section of Google Play offers songs and albums for purchase in categories such as Hot New Music, R&B/Soul, Today's Top Tunes, and Recommended for You.

Also offered is the Google Play Music service, which makes available 40 million songs on-demand, ad-free radio with unlimited skips, the ability to create your own playlists, and much more.

Google Play Music

Books

The Books section of Google Play is an e-book distribution service where you can download and read or listen to e-books and audiobooks on your Android device. There are more than 5 million e-book offerings.

Google Play's e-books are different from the Google Books online database, which contains a library of scanned books from the collections of public and academic libraries.

Google Play Books website

Movies and TV

Movie rentals and purchases are available through the Google Play Movies and TV section. You also have access to a wide range of television episodes from shows that appear on network and premium channels.

Google Play Movies & TV website

The "play" in Google Play confuses people. "Play" indicates games and fun, but the apps encompass so much more. The Google Play logo looks similar to a video Play button, so perhaps Google Play means it's time to start exploring and learning what content is available.