|Platform||Android, iOS, web, Chrome OS|
|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 software development kit (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 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). The Google Play store has reached over 2.7 million apps published and over 50 billion app downloads.
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 Books, Google Play Games, Google Play Movies & TV, Google Play Music, and Google Play Newsstand.
As of February 2017[update], Google Play features over 2.7 million Android applications. Users in over 145 countries can purchase apps, although Google notes on its support pages that "Paid content may not be available in some provinces or territories, even if the governing country is listed above." Developers in over 150 locations can distribute apps on Google Play, though not every location supports merchant registration. To distribute apps, developers have to pay a one-time $25 registration fee for a Google Play Developer Console account. App developers can control which countries an app is distributed to, as well as the pricing for the app and in-app purchases in each country. Developers receive 70% of the application price, while the remaining 30% goes to the distribution partner and operating fees. Developers can set up sales, with the original price striked out and a banner underneath informing users when the sale ends. Google Play allows developers to release early versions of apps to a select group of users, as alpha or beta tests. Developers can also release apps through staged rollouts, in which "your update reaches only a percentage of your users, which you can increase over time." Users can pre-order select apps (as well as movies, music, books, and games) to have the items delivered as soon as they are available. Some network carriers offer billing for Google Play purchases, allowing users to opt for charges in the monthly phone bill rather than on credit cards. Users can request refunds within 48 hours if "something you bought isn't working, isn't what you expected, was bought by accident, or you changed your mind about the purchase". Apps meeting specific usability requirements can qualify as an Android Wear app.
Google Play Games is an online gaming service for Android that features real-time multiplayer gaming capabilities, cloud saves, social and public leaderboards, and achievements. The service was introduced at the Google I/O 2013 Developer Conference, and the standalone mobile app was launched on July 24, 2013.
Google Play Books is an ebook digital distribution service. Google Play offers over five million ebooks available for purchase, and users can also upload up to 1,000 of their own ebooks in the form of PDF or EPUB file formats.
As of January 2017[update], movies are available in over 110 countries, while TV shows are available only in Australia, Austria, Canada, France, Germany, Japan, Switzerland, the United States and the United Kingdom.
Google Play, before March 2015, had a Devices section for users to purchase Google Nexus devices, Chromebooks, Chromecasts, other Google-branded hardware, and accessories. A separate online hardware retailer called the Google Store was introduced on March 11, 2015, replacing the Devices section of Google Play.
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, the purchase refund window was reduced from 24-48 hours to 15 minutes, each app's details page started showing a promotional graphic at the top, and the maximum size of an app was raised from 25 megabytes to 50 megabytes. The Google eBookstore was launched on December 6, 2010, debuting with three million ebooks, making it "the largest ebooks collection in the world".
In February 2011, Google introduced a web application for Android Market that provides access through a computer. Applications purchased through the Android Market website are downloaded and installed on an Android device remotely, with a "My Market Account" section letting users give their devices a nickname for easy recognition. In March, Google added an in-app billing system to Android Market, allowing developers to sell in-app products. In May, Google added new application lists to Android Market, including "Top Paid", "Top Free", "Editor's Choice", "Top Grossing", "Top Developers", and "Trending". In July, 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, the Motorola Xoom tablet received an update that brought the redesigned Android Market to Android Honeycomb-based devices. In November, Google announced Google Music, a section of the Play Store offering music purchases.
In March 2012, Google increased the maximum allowed size of an app by allowing developers to attach two expansion files to an app's basic download; each expansion file with a maximum size of 2 gigabytes, giving app developers a total of 4 gigabytes. Also in March, the Android Market was re-branded as Google Play. In May, Google began rolling out carrier billing for purchases in the Google Play Store. Also in May, Google introduced in-app subscriptions to Google Play. In August, Google announced the availability of Google Play gift cards.
In May 2014, Google added support for PayPal as a payment method, along with expanding support for carrier billing and gift cards to more countries. In July, the Android Play Store app added new headers to the Books/Movies sections, a new Additional Information screen offering a list featuring the latest available app version, installed size, and content rating, and simplified the app permissions prompt into overview categories. July also saw the Play Store get a redesign consistent with the then-new Material Design design language. In August, new app download badges were introduced, replacing the former plain-text number with a color-coded badge, with special color designations for surpassing certain app download milestones: grey for 100, 500, 1,000 or 5,000 downloads, blue for 10,000 or 50,000 downloads, green for 100,000 or 500,000 downloads, and red/orange for 1 million, 5 million, 10 million or 1 billion downloads.
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 the Play Store. At the same time, it began rolling out a new age-based ratings system for apps and games, based on a given region's official ratings authority (for example, ESRB in the US). In October, Google redesigned the Google Play Store Android app, giving it new animations, dividing up the content into "Apps and Games" and "Entertainment" sections, as well as support for languages read right-to-left.
In April 2016, Google announced a redesign of all the icons used for its suite of Play apps, adding a similar style and consistent look. In May, it was announced that the Google Play Store, including all Android apps, would be coming to Chrome OS in September 2016. In October, Google announced a new detection and filtering system designed to provide "additional enhancements to protect the integrity of the store". The new system is aimed to detect and filter cases where developers have been attempting to "manipulate the placement of their apps through illegitimate means like fraudulent installs, fake reviews, and incentivized ratings".
In February 2017, Google announced that Google Play would now let developers set sales for their apps, with the original price striked out and a banner underneath informing users when the sale ends. Google also announced that it had made changes to its algorithms to promote games based on user engagement and not just downloads. Finally, it announced new editorial pages for what it considers "optimal gaming experiences on Android", further promoting and curating games.
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 lists featuring top apps in each category, including "Top Free", a list of the most popular free apps of all time; "Top Paid", a list of the most popular paid apps of all time; "Top Grossing", a list of apps generating the highest amounts of revenue; "Trending Apps", a list of apps with recent installation growth; "Top New Free", a list of the most popular new free apps; "Top New Paid", a list of the most popular new paid apps; "Featured", a list of new apps selected by the Google Play team; "Staff Picks", a frequently-updated list of apps selected by the Google Play team; "Editors' Choice", a list of apps considered the best of all time; and "Top Developer", a list of apps made by developers considered the best.
Google Play enables users to know the popularity of apps, by displaying the number of times the app has been downloaded. The download count is a color-coded badge, with special color designations for surpassing certain app download milestones, including grey for 1,000 downloads, blue for 10,000 downloads, green for 100,000 downloads, and red/orange for 1 million downloads.
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 states in its Developer Policy Center that "Google Play supports a variety of monetization strategies to benefit developers and users, including paid distribution, in-app products, subscriptions, and ad-based models", and requires developers to comply with the policies in order to "ensure the best user experience". It requires that developers charging for apps and downloads through Google Play must use Google Play's payment system. In-app purchases unlocking additional app functionality must also use the Google Play payment system, except in cases where the purchase "is solely for physical products" or "is for digital content that may be consumed outside of the app itself (e.g. songs that can be played on other music players)."
|Initial release||October 22, 2008|
7.6.07.N-all  [PR] 148468439 / March 2, 2017
Play Store is Google's official pre-installed app store on Android-certified devices. It provides access to content on the Google Play Store, including apps, books, magazines, music, movies, and television programs.
Play Store filters the list of apps to those compatible with the user's device. Developers can target specific hardware components (such as compass), software components (such as widget), and Android versions (such as 7.0 Nougat). Carriers can also ban certain apps from being installed on users' devices, for example tethering applications.
There is no requirement that Android applications must be acquired using the Play Store. Users may download Android applications from a developer's website or through a third-party app store alternative. Play Store applications are self-contained Android Package files (APK), similar to .exe files to install programs on Microsoft Windows computers. On Android devices, an "Unknown sources" feature in Settings allows users to bypass the Play Store and install APKs from other sources. Depending on developer preferences, some apps can be installed to a phone's external storage card.
The Play Store app features a history of all installed apps. Users can remove apps from the list, with the changes also synchronizing to the Google Play website interface, where the option to remove apps from the history does not exist.
Google publishes the source code for Android through its "Android Open Source Project", allowing enthusiasts and developers to program and distribute their own modified versions of the operating system. However, not all these modified versions are compatible with apps developed for Google's official Android versions. The "Android Compatibility Program" serves to "define a baseline implementation of Android that is compatible with third-party apps written by developers". Only Android devices that comply with Google's compatibility requirements may install and access Google's Play Store application. As stated in a help page for the Android Open Source Project, "Devices that are "Android compatible" may participate in the Android ecosystem, including Android Market; devices that don't meet the compatibility requirements exist outside that ecosystem. In other words, the Android Compatibility Program is how we separate "Android compatible devices" from devices that merely run derivatives of the source code. We welcome all uses of the Android source code, but only Android compatible devices -- as defined and tested by the Android Compatibility Program -- may participate in the Android ecosystem."
Some device manufacturers choose to use their own app store instead of - or in addition to - the Play Store. Examples include Amazon opting for Amazon Appstore instead of Google Play for its Kindle Fire tablet computers, and Samsung adding Galaxy Apps for its line of Samsung Galaxy smartphones and tablets.
|Year||Month||Applications available||Downloads to date|
|July||1 million||50 billion|
In April 2016, Google announced the Google Play Awards, described as "a way to recognize our incredible developer community and highlight some of the best apps and games". The awards showcase five nominees across ten award categories, and the apps are featured in a dedicated section of Google Play. Google stated that "Nominees were selected by a panel of experts on the Google Play team based on criteria emphasizing app quality, innovation, and having a launch or major update in the last 12 months", with the winners announced in May.
Google places some restrictions on the types of apps that can be published, in particular not allowing sexually explicit content, child endangerment, violence, bullying & harassment, hate speech, gambling, illegal activities, and requiring precautions for user-generated content.
Some mobile carriers can block users from installing certain apps. In March 2009, reports surfaced that several tethering apps were banned from the store. However, the apps were later restored, with a new ban preventing only T-Mobile subscribers from downloading the apps. Google released a statement:
|“||On Monday, several applications that enable tethering were removed from the 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 the 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.
In April 2011, Google removed the Grooveshark app from the store due to unspecified policy violations. CNET noted that the removal came "after some of the top music labels have accused the service of violating copyright law". TechCrunch wrote approximately two weeks later that Grooveshark had returned to Android, "albeit not through the official App Market", but rather "Playing on Android's ability to install third-party applications through the browser, Grooveshark has taken on the responsibility of distributing the application themselves".
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 the Play Store.
According to a 2014 research study released by RiskIQ, a security services company, malicious apps introduced through Google Play increased 388% between 2011 and 2013, while the number of apps removed by Google dropped from 60% in 2011 to 23% in 2013. The study further revealed that "Apps for personalizing Android phones led all categories as most likely to be malicious". According to PC World, "Google said it would need more information about RiskIQ's analysis to comment on the findings."
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 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.
The rumor of Play Store gift cards started after references to it was discovered in the 3.8.15 version 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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