What Is Google Play?

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Google Play In a Nutshell

Google Play is the one-stop-shop for Android apps, music, movie rentals and purchases, and e-books. On Android devices, the entire Google Play store can be accessed through the Play Store app. Standard apps appear in the Android system tray, but Play Music, Play Books, and Play Movies are all really libraries of content. Each has separate player apps that allow you to access your content.

That means you can also view Play Music, Play Books, and Play Movies on laptops and non-Android phones. 

The Google Store and Phones, Watches, Chromecasts, and Nest Thermostats

Google Play previously offered a "devices" tab to the Play Store, but device transactions are not the same as software transactions. You need to handle shipping, customer support, and potential returns. As Google's device offerings expanded, Google split the devices into the Google Store

Chrome and Chromebook Apps

In addition to devices, Chrome apps have their own store in the Chrome Web Store. This is where you find apps that run on both the Chrome web browser and the Chromebook. 

Previously Known as Android Market  

Prior to March 2012, the markets were more siloed. The Android Market  handled app content, and  Google Music and Google Books handled books and music. YouTube was the source for movies (and it actually still is a location for your movie purchases and rentals.

You can access your library in both locations.)   

Android Market used to be as simple as that. An Android app store. When it was the only Android app store, this was pretty straightforward. Amazon, Sony, Samsung, and just about every single phone and Android tablet maker began offering separate app stores.


Why Play?

The word "play" implies that the store now only sells games. The logo points to a different reason. The new Google Play logo is a triangle in the familiar "play" button on videos. I'm still not sure how a book "plays," but I can see this as a combination the content consumption definition of "play" and being playful in exploring what content is available. 

App Store

Google Play sells Android apps, available through the "apps and games" section of the Play Store. Play Books, Play Music, and Play Movies are available through the "entertainment" section. 

Play Music

The old Google Music logo has been retired for those who remember Google's original song storage locker. However, the Play Music store still works the same way as the old standalone Google Music product. The player still works the same way, only you find it under the My Music section of Google Play. If you're a Google Play customer, watch your email. Every once in a while, Google offers promotional free songs and albums. 

Play Books

Google Books used to be confusingly divided between book search and eBook purchases.  The old Google eBook Store is now just a section of Google Play. Your library is still there. You're still free to download your books and transfer them to your Kindle or other e-book reader.

Your library is now part of the My Library section of Google Play.

Play Movies

Your movie rentals are available both through Google Play and through YouTube under "purchases." This sometimes gives you some flexibility, as a lot of devices support YouTube. If you're playing a movie on a mobile device - say you're getting ready to fly somewhere and want to download a movie for watching on the plane, use Google Play. If you're watching from a computer or a device that supports YouTube but not Android, use YouTube.   

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