Google's systemic revision of its services continues, with the introduction of "Google Play."
"Starting today, Android Market, Google Music and the Google eBookstore will become part of Google Play," Jamie Rosenberg, Google's director of digital content, wrote in a March 6 posting on the search engine giant's Official Blog. On mobile devices, the update from Android Market to Google Play Store will apparently take place "over the coming days," while videos, books and music apps will be rebranded "Google Play Movies, Google Play Books and Google Play Music apps."
The posting also suggested some 450,000 Android apps and games are available for download. That places it second behind Apple's App Store, which offers more than 550,000 apps for the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch.
The same log-in process that allowed users to access, say, Google Music will apply to Google Play.
Google has been intensely focused on consolidating its services. Starting March 1, the company folded 60 of its 70 existing product-privacy policies into a single blanket policy, from which users could not opt out. Under the auspices of the new policy, any user with a Google account signing into search, YouTube, Gmail or other branded services is treated as the same individual across those services, meaning that data can theoretically be swapped between them.
When Google first announced the policy was forthcoming, privacy advocates began arguing that the move trampled user privacy rights, all in the name of allowing the company to better compete with Facebook for advertising dollars. Google pushed back, arguing that its new policy is more transparent. "Our approach to privacy has not changed," Pablo Chavez, Google's director of public policy, argued in a Jan. 30 letter to Congress. "Google users continue to have choice and control."
In theory, Google Play could better allow the company to compete against Apple, which offers a combination of apps and multimedia via its iTunes service. Apple's iOS and Google Android are locked in a fierce battle for the lion's share of the mobile-device market. Google also faces a rising threat from Microsoft, which is planning to issue tablets running Windows 8 later in 2012.