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The current Google Play logo since 2016.

The former Google Play logo before 2016.

Google Play (formerly Android Market) is a digital distribution and multimedia content delivery service operated and developed by Google. It serves as the official app store for certified devices running on the Android operating system and its derivatives as well as Chrome OS, 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, books, movies, and television programs. Content that has been purchased on Google Play Movies & TV and Google Play Books can be accessed on a web browser, and through the Android and iOS apps.

Applications are available through Google Play either free of charge or at a cost. They can be downloaded directly on an Android device through the proprietary Play Store mobile app or by deploying the application to a device from the Google Play website. Applications utilizing hardware capabilities of a device can be targeted to users of devices with specific hardware components, such as a motion sensor (for motion-dependent games) or a front-facing camera (for online video calling). The Google Play store had over 82 billion app downloads in 2016 and reached over 3.5 million apps published in 2017, while after a purge of apps is back to over 3 million. It has been the subject of multiple issues concerning security, in which malicious software has been approved and uploaded to the store and downloaded by users, with varying degrees of severity.

Google Play was launched on March 6, 2012, bringing together the Android Market, Google Music, and Google Books services.

Three generations of Google Play logos. From left to right: Play Books, Play Music, Play Movies & TV, Play Newsstand and Play Games.


Android Market

Applications icon

On Google Play, free applications are available worldwide, while paid applications are available in 129 countries. Applications can be installed from the device or the Google Play website. According to Google there were over 450,000 titles available as of March 2012. Google Play can update the applications the user selects automatically, or users can update then on a per-case basis or update all applications at once.

Google Play 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 offer direct carrier billing for Android Market 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 Android Market. Users may download Android applications from a developer's website or through a third-party alternative to Android Market.

Developers in 29 countries may distribute applications on Google Play. However developers pay $25 for registration to distribute on the Android Market. Application developers receive 70 percent of the application price, with the remaining 30 percent distributed among carriers and payment processors. Google itself does not take a percentage. Revenue earned from the Android Market is paid to developers via Google Checkout merchant accounts, or via Google AdSense accounts in some countries.

On 17 March 2009, about 2,300 applications were available in Android Market, according to T-Mobile chief technical officer Cole Brodman. On 10 May 2011, during the Google I/O, Google announced that Android Market had 200,000 applications listed and 4.5 billion applications installed.

Year Month Applications available Downloads to date
2009 March 2,300 [1]
December 16,000 [2]
2010 March 30,000 [3]
April 38,000 [4]
August 80,000 [5][6] 1 billion
October 100,000 [7]
2011 May 200,000 [8] 3 billion [9]
July 250,000 [10] 6 billion
October 319,000 [11]
December 380,297 [12] 10 billion [13]
2012 January 400,000 [14]
February 450,000 [15]
May 500,000 [16] 15 billion


Google Play Movies icon

According to Google, there are thousands of movies available on Google Play Movies, some in HD, including comedy, drama, animation, action and documentary. Movies can be rented and watched on the Google Play website or via an application on an Android device. Alternatively, users can download movies for offline viewing and view them later using the Google Play Movie app.

Movies are available in US, UK, Canada, Australia, Japan, Spain and France.


Google Play Music icon

On 16 November 2011, Google introduced Google Music with a music store, Google+ integration, artist hubs, and purchasing reflected on T-Mobile phone bills. The three major label partnerships announced were with Universal Music Group, EMI, and Sony Music Entertainment, along with other smaller labels. To celebrate the launch, several artists released free songs and exclusive albums through the store. The Rolling Stones debuted the live recording Brussels Affair (Live 1973) and Pearl Jam made available a live concert recorded in Toronto on the tenth anniversary of the September 11 attacks as 9. 11. 2011 Toronto, Canada.

A cloud media player was first hinted at at the Google 2010 I/O Conference, where Google Senior Vice-President of Social Vic Gundotra showed a Music section of the Android Market that would allow users to download music through the market. The music streaming service that was announced by Google on 10 May 2011 at its I/O conference as Music Beta and released as Google Music before the rebrand to Google Play. The service supports streaming music to desktop browsers, Android phones and tablets, and any other device that can use the Adobe Flash platform. At launch, the service was available through invitation to US residents only. In November 2011, however, it is open to the public, but still only for US residents.

According to Google there are "hundreds" of free songs in Google Play and millions available for purchase. Users can also upload up to 20,000 of their songs to the service, for free. Songs in Google Music are priced at US $1.29, $0.99, $0.69, and free. Users also get personalized recommendation based on what they listen to the most. Music can be played on the Google Play website, or any Android device. Music can also be stored for offline playback.

Google also noted From time to time we'll be showcasing exclusive concerts and interviews available in Google Play.

The service allows the user to automatically create a playlist of songs that go well together using a feature known as Instant Mix. Music imported from iTunes will retain its playlists.


Google Play Books icon

According to Google there are over three million ebooks on Google Play, nearly 3 million are free and there are hundreds of thousands available for purchase. Books can be read online at the Google Play website, or offline, via the Android application.

Google Play's books are available in the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Italy and Australia.


The store sells a Galaxy Nexus smartphone for $399 (unlocked, without contract). For now, Google is only selling the smartphone in the US. but the company plans to sell it in other countries as well.

Play Store application

The Play Store Android application allows users to download movies, applications, music and books. According to Google, users with the old Android Market on an Android device will have the application automatically update itself.


The old Android Market logo

The old Android Market on the Nexus S

Google announced the Android Market on August 28 2008, and made it available to users on October 22 2008. They introduced support for paid applications on February 13 2009 for US and UK developers, with additional support for 29 countries on September 30 2010.

In December 2010, Google added content filtering to Android Market and reduced the purchase refund window from 24–48 hours to 15 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 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.[17]

In September 2011, the Motorola Xoom tablet received an update that brought the redesigned Android Market to an Android 3.x Honeycomb based device.[18]

In November 2011, Google added a music store to the Android Market.[19]

In March 2012, the maximum allowed size of an application's APK file was also increased from 50MB to allow two additional files for a maximum of 50MB for the APK and two additional files of 2GB each, totalling 4050MB/4.05GB.[20]

On 6 March 2012, the Android Market was re-branded as Google Play.[21]

Device compatibility

The Google Play application is not open source. Only Android devices that comply with Google's compatibility requirements may install and access Google's closed-source Google Play application, subject to entering into a free-of-charge [22] licensing agreement with Google.[23] 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.

Android Market applications are self-contained Android Package files. The Android Market does not install applications; it asks the device's Package Manager Service 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.


  1. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named apps2009
  2. Wauters, Robin (16 December 2009). "Google: Actually, We Count Only 16,000 Apps in Android Market". TechCrunch. Retrieved 15 May 2012. 
  3. Chan, Casey (18 March 2010). "Android Market Has 30,000 Apps, Sort Of". Android Central. Retrieved 4 January 2012. 
  4. Nickinson, Phil (15 April 2010). "Android Market Now Has 38,000 Apps". Android Central. Archived from the original on April 16, 2010. Retrieved 4 January 2012. 
  5. Hildenbrand, Jerry (9 September 2010). "Android Market Has More than 80,000 Apps, Android's Rubin Says". Android Central. 
  6. "Android Market Hits 1 Billion Downloads & 100,000 Apps". 15 July 2009. Archived from the original on July 20, 2010. Retrieved 4 January 2012. 
  7. Gibb, Kyle (26 October 2010). "Android Market Passes 100,000 Apps". Android Central. Retrieved 4 January 2012. 
  8. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named 200.000 apps
  9. Rao, Leena (14 April 2011). "Google: Billion Android Apps Installed; Downloads up 50 Percent from Last Quarter". TechCrunch. Retrieved 13 May 2011. 
  10. Nickinson, Phil (14 July 2011). "Android Market Now Has More than a Quarter-Million Applications". Android Central. Archived from the original on July 16, 2011. Retrieved 14 July 2011. 
  11. "Android Market Reaches 500,000 App Mark". 23 October 2011. Archived from the original on October 24, 2011. Retrieved 23 October 2011. 
  12. "Google Android Market". Distimo. 17 October 2011. Archived from the original on December 24, 2009. Retrieved 18 December 2011. 
  13. Bonnington, Christina (8 December 2011). "Google’s 10 Billion Android App Downloads: By the Numbers". Wired. Retrieved 12 December 2011. 
  14. Paul, Ian (4 January 2012). "Android Market Tops 400,000 Apps". PCWorld. Retrieved 15 May 2012. 
  15. "Google+ post Andy Rubin". Google Plus. Google. 27 February 2012. Archived from the original on 30 May 2012. Retrieved 27 February 2012. 
  16. "Google Play About To Pass 15 Billion App Downloads? Pssht! It Did That Weeks Ago". techcrunch. 7 May 2012. Retrieved 22 May 2012. 
  17. Montoy-Wilson, Paul (12 July 2011). "A New Android Market for Phones, with Books and Movies – Official Google Mobile Blog". Google Mobile Blog. Retrieved 3 October 2011. 
  18. Burns, Chris (29 September 2011). "Android Market Update Released for Honeycomb Tablets". SlashGear. Retrieved 3 October 2011. 
  19. Rodriguez, Armando (16 November 2011). "Get Started With Google's New Music Store". PCWorld. Retrieved 7 March 2012. 
  20. Jeremy Levitt (6 March 2012). "Android Apps Supersized, to 4 GB". iTWire. Retrieved 8 March 2012. 
  21. "Official Google Blog: Introducing Google Play: All Your Entertainment, Anywhere You Go". Retrieved 7 March 2012. 
  22. "Frequently Asked Questions | Android Open Source". Archived from the original on May 23, 2010. Retrieved 7 March 2012. 
  23. "Android Compatibility". Android Open Source Project. Retrieved 31 December 2010. 

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