|Platform||Android, Chrome OS, iOS (excluding apps), web (excluding apps), Roku (movies only)|
|Type||Digital distribution app store|
Google Play is a digital distribution service, including a digital media store, the Google Play Store (originally the Android Market), operated and developed by Google. It serves as the official app store for the Android operating system, allowing users to browse and download applications developed with the Android SDK and published through Google. Google Play also serves as a digital media store, offering music, magazines, books, movies, and television programs. It previously offered Google hardware devices for purchase until the introduction of a separate online hardware retailer, Google Store, on March 11, 2015.
Applications are available through Google Play either free of charge or at a cost. They can be downloaded directly to an Android or Google TV device through the Play Store mobile app, or by deploying the application to a device from the Google Play website. Applications exploiting hardware capabilities of a device can be targeted to suitable users by requisite hardware attribute, such as a motion sensor (for motion-dependent games) or a front-facing camera (for online video calling).
Google Play was launched on March 6, 2012, bringing together the Android Market, Google Music, and the Google eBookstore under one brand, marking a shift in Google's digital distribution strategy. The services operating under the Google Play banner are: Google Play Music, Google Play Books, Google Play Newsstand, Google Play Movies & TV, and Google Play Games. The Google Play store has reached over 2.2 million apps published and over 50 billion downloads.
Google Play makes free-of-charge applications available worldwide (except countries under United States embargoes), while paid applications are available in 135 countries. Applications can be installed from the device using the Google Play Store app or through the Google Play website on a PC. According to AppBrain Stats, there are over 1,400,000 applications available as of November 2014, of which over 1,200,000 are free and over 200,000 are paid. Google seems to remove low-quality apps from the store roughly once a quarter, when the number of available apps go down.
As of November 2014, developers in 61 countries were able to distribute paid applications on Google Play. To distribute apps, developers have to pay $25 as registration fee for a Google Play Developer Console account. Google states that this fee is charged to encourage higher quality products on Google Play. Application developers can control which countries an app is distributed in, as well as the pricing for the app and in-app purchases in each country. Developers receive 70 percent of the application price, while the remaining 30 percent goes to the distribution partner and operating fees. Revenue earned from the Google Play is paid to developers via Google Wallet merchant accounts, or via Google AdSense accounts in some countries.
Google Play allows developers to release early versions of apps to a select group of users, as alpha- and beta-testing versions. This allows the developer to fix any issues before the app is released widely. Google Play also allows developers to release updates in stages, first to a subset of users and then progressively to larger portions of the userbase, ensuring that the smallest number of users are affected by any issues missed in testing.
Some carriers, such as Sprint, offer direct carrier billing for application purchases. Purchases of unwanted applications can be refunded within 48 hours.
On March 17, 2009, about 2,300 applications were available in Android Market, according to T-Mobile chief technical officer Cole Brodman. On May 10, 2011, during the Google I/O, Google announced that Android Market had 200,000 applications listed and 4.5 billion applications installed. In October 2012, Google announced that Google Play had 700,000 apps available to download, matching the number of apps in Apple's App Store. On July 24, 2013, Google announced that the Play Store now had one million applications listed and it had over 50 billion downloads.
Google Play offers an online music store with over 35 million songs, cloud storage of up to 50,000 songs at no cost, and a subscription music streaming service called Google Play Music. Songs are priced at US$1.29, $0.99, $0.69, and free. Google Play Music is currently available in 58 countries.
Purchase of books is currently supported in 65 countries. Google requires users to provide payment information even for downloading free ebooks. In addition to downloading books from Google Play, users can upload books in the PDF or EPUB formats, which are stored in the cloud free of charge for up to 1,000 books.
Publishers and authors can publish their books for sale on Google Play through the Play Books Partner Centre. Google mandates publishers selling their ebooks on Google Play to also make the book available for a limited preview on Google Books. The publisher can set the percentage of the book to be made available for preview.
Google first began selling ebooks online through the Google eBookstore, which was launched on December 6, 2010, in the United States with over 3 million titles. It became a part of Google Play when the latter was launched.
As of September 2015, Google Play was not accepting new sign-ups for publishing.
Movies and TV shows
There are thousands of movies and television shows available on Google Play Movies & TV, some in HD, including comedy, drama, animation, action and documentary. Movies can be rented or purchased and watched on the Google Play website or via an application on an Android device. Some titles are only available for rental, some only for purchase, and others for both rental and purchase. TV shows can be purchased by episode or season but cannot be rented. Alternatively, users can download movies and TV shows for offline viewing and view them later using the Google Play Movie app.
News publications and magazines
Google Play serves subscriptions to free and paid news publications, and magazines for reading on Play Newsstand. At the time of the launch of Play Newsstand, about 1,900 free and paid news publications were available. All magazines must offer at least a 14-day trial, while the free trial period offered for news sources (news editions) varies and is not mandatory. Subscriptions to paid content is currently supported in Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, France, Germany, Indonesia, Ireland, India, Italy, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Netherlands, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Russia, South Korea, Spain, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey, Ukraine, United Kingdom and United States.
Google Play, before March 2015, had a Devices section for users to purchase Google Nexus devices, Chromebooks, other Google-branded hardware, and accessories. At the Google I/O in June 2012, Google announced that Nexus 7 tablets would be made available for purchase through Google Play. At Google I/O 2013, it was announced that a special edition of the Samsung Galaxy S4 with stock Android 4.2 would be made available on Google Play on June 26, 2013. Likewise, on May 30, 2013, HTC announced that a similar stock Android version of the HTC One would also be released the same day. Android Wear devices, Chromecast and Chromebooks were other hardware devices listed for sale.
A separate online hardware retailer called the Google Store was introduced on March 11, 2015, replacing the Devices section of Google Play.
Google Play applications
On November 20, 2013, Google launched Google Play Newsstand, which combined the features of Google Play Magazines and Google Currents into a single product, which serves subscriptions to magazines, web feeds and server-generated topical feeds. Priced news sources and magazines can be subscribed from the Google Play Store app on Android or the Google Play website on any device, while free news sources can be subscribed from both within the app or from Google Play. All topical news feeds are free and can be subscribed only from within the app. Reviews and ratings can be submitted for all Newsstand content distributed through Google Play. All subscribed topics, feeds, sources and magazines are synced across devices signed in with the same Google account.
Play Newsstand featured about 1,900 free and paid publications at the time of its launch. The app automatically formats articles for reading on a phone or tablet, complete with images, audio and video inline. Articles are cached on the device for offline reading.
Play Newsstand was released for iOS in September 2014, as an update to the Google Currents app. The Verge noted that the user experience across Android and iOS was nearly the same.
Play Newsstand incorporates Google's Material Design language. The app's home screen (the Read now view) displays articles on the basis of the user's interests which, according to Google, the app learns quickly. Subscribed topics show up as tabs on the home screen. Play Newsstand also supports RSS feeds. Many formats of RSS content, however, are not supported. Play Newsstand also allows users to bookmark articles for later reading.
Google Play Games is a service designed for Android which features real-time multiplayer gaming capabilities, cloud saves, social and public leaderboards, and achievements. The service was introduced at Google's I/O 2013 Developer Conference along with many other new services, and the standalone app was launched on July 24 at an event called "Breakfast with Sundar Pichai" together with the new Nexus 7, Android 4.3 and the Chromecast. It lists both games and Google+ friends' games on its home screen and lets users see highlights from both categories. This service is similar to Apple's Game Center. It started out only available in a limited selection of games such as Super Stickman Golf 2, PBA Bowling, World of Goo, Osmos HD, and a few others but has since been added to thousands of games. According to Google, Google Play Games received over 100 million new users between January 2014 and June 2014, making it the fastest growing mobile gaming network of all time.
Google Play originated from three distinct products: Android Market, Google Music and Google eBookstore.
The Android Market was announced by Google on August 28, 2008, and was made available to users on October 22. Support for paid applications was introduced on February 13, 2009 for developers in the United States and the United Kingdom, with support expanded to an additional 29 countries on September 30, 2010. In December 2010, content filtering was added to the Android Market and reduced the purchase refund window from 24–48 hours to fifteen minutes.
Google eBookstore was launched on December 6, 2010, in the United States after extensive speculations regarding its release. It debuted with over 3 million ebooks, making it the world's largest ebookstore overnight. The international editions were to roll out beginning in early 2011.
In February 2011, Google introduced a web client for Android Market that provides access to it via a PC. Applications requested through the Android Market web page are downloaded and installed on a registered Android device. In March 2011, Google added in-app billing to Android Market, allowing apps to sell in-app products. In May 2011, Google added new application lists to Android Market, including "Top Grossing" applications, "Top Developers", "Trending" applications, and "Editors Recommendations". Google's Eric Chu said the goal of this change was to expose users to as many applications as possible. In July 2011, Google introduced a redesigned interface with a focus on featured content, more search filters, and (in the US) book sales and movie rentals. In September 2011, the Motorola Xoom tablet received an update that brought the redesigned Android Market to an Android 3.x Honeycomb-based device. In November 2011, Google added a music store to the Android Market.
In March 2012, the maximum allowed size of an application's APK file was also increased from 50 MB to allow two additional files for a maximum of 50 MB for the APK and two additional files of 2 GB each, totaling 4 GB. On March 6, 2012, the Android Market was re-branded as Google Play. On May 2, 2012, Google rolled out direct carrier billing for music, movies and books. On May 24, 2012, Google introduced in-app subscriptions to Google Play. On July 12, 2012, Google released update 3.8.15 which added Application Encryption functionality to help reduce application piracy. Since this update, many developers have noted compatibility issues causing various third-party widgets and keyboards to disappear after phone reboots or connecting to USB storage. Currently, a fix is planned for a future release of Android OS.
In July 2014, Google expanded its All Access Music service (now Google Play Music) to Ukraine among five other countries. Ukraine thus joined Russia as the only former Soviet republics with access to the service.
On April 4, 2016, Android's official blog announced a redesign of the icons used for the suite of Play apps, including Play Store, Play Movies & TV, Play Music, Play Games, Play Books, and Play Newsstand. The new icons have a similar style, and are meant to provide a consistent look across all devices and web.
Apart from searching for content by name, apps can also be searched through keywords provided by the developer. For the discoverability of apps, Play Store consists of sections such as Featured apps – showing apps meeting the Android design and quality criteria, Editor's Picks – exceptional apps and games picked by the Google Play editorial team, Top Charts – the most popular apps and games overall and by category, and Trending – apps that are trending with other users. Existing apps that raise their quality can trend too. Play Store also features over 40 categories for browsing apps and regularly updated collections based on events and other interests.
Google Play enables users to know the popularity of apps (and other content) by displaying the immediate round figure less than the number of times the application has been downloaded. The numbers shown are the products of multiplying 1 or 5 by powers of 10, i.e. 1 billion, 500 million, 100 million, 50 million, 10 million, 5 million, 1 million, 500 thousand, 100 thousand, 50 thousand and so on. This is stylised as a large number with a smaller word showing the unit, hence "500 thousand" is written thus, and not as "5 hundred thousand" or "500,000". These units are localised: the Chinese version of the Play Store represents 5 million as 500 万, where 万 (wàn) means 10,000, instead of writing 5 followed by the compound unit 百万 (100 x 10,000).
The 'number of downloads' actually refers to the number of Google accounts associated with an app. The number is not affected by the uninstallation of apps, neither is it affected if the app is later reinstalled using the same Google account.
Users can submit reviews and ratings for apps and digital content distributed through Google Play, which are displayed publicly. Ratings are based on a 5-point scale. App developers can respond to reviews using the Google Play Developer Console.
Google Play features a download history that allows users to view apps installed earlier without having to search manually. Purchased apps can be re-installed at a later date without having to re-buy it. Currently, however, there is no way to permanently delete or remove apps downloaded from the Google Play website (My Orders/My Android Apps). Since version 3.9.16, users are able to remove apps from the "All Apps" list on devices only.
Advertisements in free apps
Many of the free apps on the store use advertisements and are freemium – free apps with in-app purchases used as the sources of revenue.
Play Store on Android
|Initial release||October 22, 2008|
7.2.25.J-all  [PR] 140679664 / December 3, 2016
Play Store is Google's official pre-installed app on Android-trademarked devices which provides access to content on the Google Play Store. It allows users to browse and download music, books, magazines, movies, television programs, and applications. With the introduction of Google Play on March 6, 2012, the Android Market app on old devices was upgraded to the Play Store app.
Play Store filters the list of applications to those compatible with the user's device. In addition, users may face further restrictions to choice of applications where developers have tied-in their applications to particular carriers or countries for business reasons. Carriers can also ban certain applications, for example tethering applications.
There is no requirement that Android applications be acquired using Play Store. Users may download Android applications from a developer's website or through a third-party alternative. Play Store applications are self-contained Android Package files (APK). Play Store does not install applications; it asks the device's PackageManagerService to install them. The package manager becomes visible if the user downloads an APK file directly into their device. Applications are installed to the phone's internal storage, and under certain conditions may be installed to the device's external storage card.
The Play Store application is not open source. Only Android devices that comply with Google's compatibility requirements may install and access Google's closed-source Play Store application, subject to entering into a free-of-charge licensing agreement with Google. In the past, these requirements had included 3G or 4G cellular data connectivity, ruling out Android-powered devices comparable to Apple's iPod Touch, but this requirement had been loosened by the 2011 release of the Samsung Galaxy Player.
Some tablet computers such as Amazon Kindle Fire, do not provide access to Google Play, and instead use their manufacturer's own mobile content distribution service. Some owners use Android rooting to access Google Play, or use sideloading to load applications. As of July 2013, Barnes & Noble released an update to the Nook HD adding Google Play. Some applications, upon downloading from Google Play, elicit a warning that they are about to overlay the previously loaded Nook version of the same application. BlackBerry 10 devices (OS 10.2.1 and higher) can sideload an app called SNAP which allows direct downloads of apps from Google Play
Google gives out a yearly list of its 25 best apps on the Google Play Store that are believed to be a "must-have". In 2015, the following apps have found their place on the list: Colorfy, Jet, Khan Academy, Flipagram, Robinhood, Adobe Photoshop Lightroom, B&H Photo, Ginger Keyboard Emoji, Language Learning, Cute, theScore, HBO Now, WPS Office + PDF, Dashlane Password Manager, Backgrounds HD, Kitchen Stories, Toca Nature, YouTube Kids, Showtime, Peak, Retrica, Memrise Learn Languages Trulia Real Estate & Rentals,Wishbone, We Heart it.
Google places some restrictions on the types of apps that can be published, in particular not allowing "sexually explicit material", "Violence and Bullying", "Hate Speech", "Impersonation or Deceptive Behavior", copyrighted material (without permission), and a few other activities. Nevertheless, developers can still distribute the apps in .apk format and they can then be installed by users on their Android devices.
On March 31, 2009, Google removed all tethering applications from Android Market because they supposedly violated terms of service of certain carriers. Google later restored tethering applications to Android Market, except those for the T-Mobile USA network, which was specifically the subject of the violation:
As of May 20, 2010, PDAnet, Easy Tether and Proxoid were all available in the US market for T-Mobile users. On April 5, 2011, Google withdrew the Grooveshark app from Android Market due to unspecified policy violations. However, the app remained available for direct download via Grooveshark's website for those users who had enabled non-market application downloads.
On May 27, 2011, Google banned SpoofApp, a Caller ID spoofing application typically used for prank calling which had been available in Android Market since December 18, 2008. On May 29, 2011, Google banned the account of the developer of several video game emulators, including Nesoid, Snesoid, and N64oid and neither Google nor the developer publicly revealed the reason for the ban.
In March 2013, Google began to pull ad blocking apps from Play Store (such as Adblock Plus) per section 4.4 of the developers' agreement, which prohibits apps that interfere with third-party servers and services.
In March 2015, Google disclosed that over the past few months, it had been begun using a combination of automated tools and human reviewers to check apps for malware and terms of service violations before they are published in Play Store.
Google uses an in-house automated antivirus system, called Google Bouncer, to remove malicious applications uploaded on to the marketplace. This is meant to prevent repeat-offender developers, as well as check for anomalies in uploaded apps.
According to a 2014 research study released by RiskIQ, malicious apps introduced through Google Play store have increased 388% between 2011 and 2013. The study also revealed that the number of malicious apps removed annually by Google has dropped drastically, from 60% in 2011 to 23% in 2013. Apps for personalizing Android phones led all categories as most likely to be malicious.
Before installing an application, Google Play displays all the permissions that an app requires. A game may need to enable vibration, for example, but should not need to read messages or access the user's address book data. After reviewing these permissions, the user can decide whether to install the application.
Possible app permissions include functionality like:
- Accessing the Internet
- Making phone calls
- Sending SMS messages
- Reading from and writing to the installed memory card
- Accessing a user's address book data
Security software companies have been developing applications to ensure the security of Android devices. SMobile Systems, one such manufacturer, claims that 20% of apps in Android Market request permissions that could be used for malicious purposes, and 5% of apps can make phone calls without the user's intervention. This is not a claim that the apps are actually malicious, but rather highlight the potential for malicious activity.
In October 2016, Engadget reported about a blog post named "Password Storage in Sensitive Apps" from freelance Android hacker Jon Sawyer, who decided to test the top privacy apps on the Google Play Store. Testing two applications, one named "Hide Pictures Keep Safe Vault" and the other named "Private Photo Vault", Sawyer found significant errors in password handling in both, and commented, "These companies are selling products that claim to securely store your most intimate pieces of data, yet are at most snake oil. You would have near equal protection just by changing the file extension and renaming the photos."
In some cases applications which contained Trojans were hidden in pirated versions of legitimate apps. In early March 2011, DroidDream, a trojan rootkit exploit, was released to the Android Market in the form of several free applications that were, in many cases, pirated versions of existing priced apps. This exploit allowed hackers to steal information such as IMEI and IMSI numbers, phone model, user ID, and service provider. The exploit also installed a backdoor that allowed the hackers to download more code to the infected device. These apps were downloaded more than 50,000 times before Google took action and removed them from the Market. The exploit only affected devices running Android versions earlier than 2.3 "Gingerbread". In many cases, the only guaranteed method of removing the exploit from an infected device was to reset it to factory state, although community-developed solutions for blocking some aspects of the exploit were created. Google started remotely removing the malicious apps from infected devices on March 5, and also released its own app, the "Android Market Security Tool March 2011", which automatically removed the exploit. This app was automatically installed to all infected devices, and users with infected devices were notified via e-mail.
Some developers publishing on Google Play have been sued for patent infringement of US Patent 6,857,067, which is not owned by Google.
The rumor of Play Store gift cards started after references to it was seen in the version 3.8.15 update to the Play Store app. Soon after images of the gift cards started to leak, and on August 21, 2012 they were made official by Google and rolled out over the next few weeks.
Google Play gift cards are currently available in Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, India, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Singapore, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States.
Users outside the countries/regions listed below only have access to free apps and games through Google Play.
|Country/Region||Paid apps and games||Devices||Magazines||Books||Movies & TV||Music|
|Customers can purchase||Developers can sell||Movies||TV shows||Standard||All Access|
|Antigua and Barbuda||Yes||No||No||No||No||Yes||No||No||No|
|Bosnia and Herzegovina||Yes||No||No||No||No||Yes||No||Yes||Yes|
|Papua New Guinea||Yes||No||No||No||No||Yes||No||No||No|
|Trinidad and Tobago||Yes||No||No||No||No||Yes||No||No||No|
|United Arab Emirates||Yes||Yes||No||Yes||Yes||Yes||No||No||No|
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