|Initial release||October 22, 2008(as Android Market)|
|Development status||Active / 1.3+ million apps (as of August 2014)|
iOS (excluding Play Games)
|Type||Digital distribution, software update|
Google Play, formerly the Android Market, is a digital distribution platform operated 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. Users can also purchase hardware devices through the service, such as Chromebooks, Google Nexus-branded mobile devices, Chromecasts, and accessories.
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. Many applications can be targeted to specific users based on a particular hardware attribute of their device, such as a motion sensor (for motion-dependent games) or a front-facing camera (for online video calling).
On March 6, 2012, Google rebranded its digital distribution strategy by merging the Android Market and Google Music and renaming the service Google Play. 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 1.3 million apps published and over 50 billion downloads.
Google Play Music offers an online music store with over 22 million songs, cloud storage of up to 20,000 songs at no cost, and a subscription music streaming service called All Access. Songs are priced at US$1.29, $0.99, $0.69, and free. Google Play Music is currently available in 34 countries.
|This section requires expansion. (June 2014)|
|Stable release||3.1.49 / June 2, 2014|
|Operating system||Android, iOS|
Google Play Books is the world's largest ebookstore with over 5 million titles. Purchased books are stored in the cloud and are available for online viewing through a web browser and for both online and offline viewing via the Play Books app for Google Chrome on PCs and through the official mobile apps for Android and iOS.
On May 15, 2013, Google updated the Google Play Books app on Android and iOS to add support for user uploaded PDF and EPUB files. Users can store up to 1,000 files free of charge on the cloud, as long as they are under 100MB.
A Google Play Book, however, is only a license to read the book. If the purchaser happens to travel to a country where Google Play Books are not sold then the books on the device can be deleted. In such a case, the books would have to be re-downloaded after the traveler returns to a country where they are sold.
Google Play Books is currently available in 57 countries.
|This section requires expansion. (June 2014)|
|Initial release||20 November 2013|
|Stable release||3.3 / October 2, 2014|
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. Users can subscribe to free news sources such as websites and blogs within the app, and to paid publications through the Google Play Store. Play Newsstand features about 1,900 free and paid publications. The app automatically formats articles for reading on a phone or tablet, complete with images, audio or video inline. Articles are cached on the device for offline reading.
Google Play offers the purchase of paid newsstand content in Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, United Kingdom and United States.
|This section requires expansion. (June 2014)|
|Stable release||3.2.25 (Android)
1.0.1 (iOS) / June 19, 2014 (Android)
January 15, 2014 (iOS)
According to Google, 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.
|This section requires expansion. (June 2014)|
|Initial release||May 16, 2013|
|Stable release||2.0.13 / September 15, 2014|
Google Play Games is a service designed for Android which features real-time multiplayer gaming capabilities, cloud saves, social and public leaderboards, and achievements. It helps users to discover new games by viewing what friends from Google+ are playing. It lists both games and friends 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. 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.
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 or through the Google Play website on a PC. According to AppBrain Stats, there are over 1,300,000 applications available as of July 2014[update], of which over 1,000,000 are free and 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 June 2014[update], developers in 45 countries are able to distribute paid applications on Google Play. However, developers pay $25 for registration to distribute on the Google Play Store. Application developers receive 70 percent of the application price, while the remaining 30% goes to 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.
The Devices section of the Google Play store allows customers to purchase Google Nexus mobile devices, Chromebooks, other Google-branded hardware, and accessories. Google Play sells the Nexus 5 smartphone for $349 with 16 GB of flash storage unlocked with no contract required. At the Google I/O Conference in June 2012, Google announced the Nexus 7 tablet computer for $199 with 16 GB of flash storage and $249 with 32 GB of flash storage would be made available for purchase through the devices section of the Google Play store.
The Nexus 5 is currently sold in Australia, Canada, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Spain, the United Kingdom and the United States. The Nexus 7 is currently sold in Australia, Canada, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Spain, the United Kingdom and the United States. The Nexus 7 3G is currently sold in Australia, France, Germany, Spain, the United States. The Nexus 10 is currently sold in Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Japan, Spain, the United Kingdom and the United States.
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 version of the HTC One would also be released the same day.
|Device Name||Price (USD)||Available?|
|Nexus 7 Cover||$19.99||No|
|Additional Nexus 7 Charger||$24.99||No|
|Nexus 7 Dock||$29.99||No|
|Nexus 7 Sleeve||$29.99||No|
|Nexus 7 (2012 version)||$199+||No|
|Nexus 4 Bumper||$19.99||No|
|Nexus Wireless Charger||$49.99||Yes|
|Samsung Galaxy S4 Google Play edition||$649||No|
|HTC One Google Play edition||$499||No|
|Nexus 10 Cover||$29.99||Yes|
|Acer C7 Chromebook||$199||Yes|
|Nexus 7 (2013 version)||$229+||Yes|
|LG G Pad 8.3 Google Play Edition||$349+||No|
|Sony Z Ultra Google Play Edition||$649||No|
|Moto G Google Play Edition||$179+||Yes|
|HTC One M8 Google Play edition||$699||Yes|
|Nest Learning Thermostat||$249||Yes|
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 13 February 2009 for developers in the United States and the United Kingdom, with support expanded to an additional 29 countries on 30 September 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.
In February 2011, Google introduced a web client that provides access to Android Market via 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, totalling 4146 MB/4.146 GB. On 6 March 2012, the Android Market was re-branded as Google Play. On 2 May 2012, Google rolled out direct carrier billing for music, movies and books. On 24 May 2012, Google introduced in-app subscriptions to Google Play. On 12 July 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.
|Initial release||October 22, 2008|
|Stable release||4.9.13 / July 22, 2014|
The Google Play Store is the official pre-installed app on Android devices which provides access to the Google Play store. It allows users to browse and download music, books, magazines, movies, television programs, and applications from Google Play. The Devices segment of Google Play is not accessible through the Play Store.
The Android Market was rebranded as the Play Store on March 6, 2012. The Android Market updates itself on older devices that it was installed on to reflect the change.
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.
Some carriers, such as Sprint, offer direct carrier billing for application purchases. Purchases of unwanted applications can be refunded within 15 minutes of the time of download. There is no requirement that Android applications be acquired from the 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. 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.
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.
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
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 had seen over 50 billion downloads.
|Year||Month||Applications available||Downloads to date|
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:
|“||On Monday, several applications that enable tethering were removed from Android Market catalog because they were in violation of T-Mobile's terms of service in the US. Based on Android's Developer Distribution Agreement (section 7.2), we remove applications from Android Market catalog that violate the terms of service of a carrier or manufacturer.
We inadvertently unpublished the applications for all carriers, and today we have corrected the problem so that all Android Market users outside the T-Mobile US network will now have access to the applications. We have notified the affected developers.
—Google, April 2009
As of May 20, 2010, PDAnet, Easy Tether and Proxoid were all available in the U.S. market for T-Mobile users. On 5 April 2011, Google withdrew the Grooveshark app from Android Market due to unspecified policy violations. However, the app is still available for direct download via Grooveshark's website for those users who have 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 18 December 2008. On 29 May 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.
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. Bouncer is credited to reducing malware by 40 percent between the first and second quarters of 2011. Lookout Mobile Security has reported that malware resulted in a loss of US$1 million in 2012.
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:
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 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. In some cases applications which contained Trojans were hidden in pirated versions of legitimate apps.
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, Canada, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, New Zealand 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||No||No||No||No|
|British Antarctic Territory||No||No||No||No||No||No||No||No||No|
|British Indian Ocean Territory||No||No||No||No||No||No||No||No||No|
|British Virgin Islands||No||No||No||No||No||No||No||No||No|
|Isle of Man||No||No||No||No||No||No||No||No||No|
|Papua New Guinea||Yes||No||No||No||No||Yes||No||No||No|
|South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands||No||No||No||No||No||No||No||No||No|
|Trinidad and Tobago||Yes||No||No||Yes||No||Yes||No||No||No|
|Tristan da Cunha||No||No||No||No||No||No||No||No||No|
|Turks and Caicos Islands||No||No||No||No||No||No||No||No||No|
|United Arab Emirates||Yes||Yes||No||No||No||No||No||No||No|
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