|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.
- 1 Catalog content
- 2 History
- 3 Interface
- 4 App monetization
- 5 Play Store on Android
- 6 History of app growth
- 7 Best applications
- 8 Application approval
- 9 Application security
- 10 Patent issues
- 11 Gift cards
- 12 Availability
- 13 See also
- 14 Notes
- 15 References
- 16 External links
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. 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." 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.
Movies and TV shows
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.
News publications and magazines
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, including grey for 1,000 downloads, blue for 10,000 downloads, green for 100,000 downloads, and red/orange for 1 million downloads.
In March 2015, Google announced that app submissions to the Play Store would now be reviewed by an internal team checking for policy violations, rather than having apps published immediately. 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".
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)."
Play Store on Android
|Initial release||October 22, 2008|
7.5.08.M-all  [PR] 146162341 / February 4, 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 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 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.
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
History of app growth
|Year||Month||Applications available||Downloads to date|
|July||1 million||50 billion|
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:
|“||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 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.
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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