What Is Google Play?

Everything you need to know about the Android storefront

Google Play is your one-stop-shop for Android apps, games, music, movie rentals and purchases, and ebooks. The Google Play Store app is on every Android device by default and offers access to the storefront's entire range of offerings. Standard apps appear in the Android system tray, but Games, Music, Books, Movies, and TV are all libraries of downloadable content. Here's what you need to know.

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

Google Play's History

Google Play launched on March 6, 2012, bringing together the previous Android marketplaces (Android Market, Google Music, and Google Books) 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 those are exclusively available in the Chrome Web Store. You can still use the Google Play store in Chrome environments.

Google Play's Offerings

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

Apps

The Google Play Store surpassed one million apps in July 2013 and currently has over 2.8 million. Some applications can take advantage of a device's hardware capabilities, such as motion sensors (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 like Hot New Music, R&B/Soul, Today's Top Tunes, and Recommended for You. It also offers the Google Play Music service, which has 40 million songs on-demand, ad-free radio with unlimited skips, the ability to create your own playlists, and much more.

Google Play Music is being phased out in favor of YouTube Music, and will likely go away at the end of 2020. The company is making it easy to transfer playlists and music from Google Play Music to YouTube Music.

Google Play Music

Books

The Books section of Google Play is an ebook distribution service where you can download and read or listen to ebooks and audiobooks on your Android device. There are currently more than five million ebook offerings.

Google Play's ebooks 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.