Google Play is now Google's master storefront for the majority of its digital entertainment content. Play will serve as a one-stop shop for Android apps, music and movie downloads, and e-book purchases. In other words, it's the Android Market combined with Google Music and the Google eBookstore, all in one unified hub.
So what does the change really mean for you as an Android user? In short, not much.
Google's "Google Play" move is more of a branding and service consolidation change than anything. Google execs say they wanted to emphasize the fact that many of the services -- namely e-book buying, digital music storage and purchasing, and movie rentals -- are not limited just to Android devices; they can also be used via the Web from any PC. Google Play, then, is essentially a business play: With more consistent branding and organization, Google hopes it can draw in more users from both Android and the Internet at large.
"We believe that with a strong brand, compelling offerings, and a seamless purchasing and consumption experience, Google Play will drive more traffic and revenue to the entire ecosystem," Kenneth Lui, an Android team member, wrote in a message to developers this morning.
The only real difference you'll see is in the various services' names and interfaces: Instead of tapping the "Android Market" icon on your phone or tablet, you'll tap the "Play Store" icon. Instead of "Google Music," you'll see "Play Music." The "Videos" app will be "Play Movies," and "Books" will be "Play Books."
On the Web, meanwhile, all sections of the Market and Google Music will live under the "Play" umbrella (and eventually, it appears, the Google Play URL). But interface and branding aside, it'll all work pretty much the same way it does right now.
The changes should show up on your Android phone and/or tablet soon: Google says it'll roll out the updated apps to users over-the-air starting today and continuing over the next couple of weeks. Every device running Android 2.2 or higher will eventually be upgraded.
The one curiosity in all of this to me is the fact that the Chrome Web Store isn't being included in the reorganization. If Google is trying to create an all-in-one storefront for mobile- and Web-based digital entertainment, you'd think it would want to include the apps that run in its Chrome desktop browser, too. But hey, maybe that's something that'll happen down the line.
In the meantime, say so long to the Android Market and Google Music, and say hello to Google Play. This may take a little getting used to.
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Article copyright 2012 JR Raphael. All rights reserved.