Google Revamps Its Play Store for Android Phones, Tablets

By Todd R. Weiss  |  Posted 2013-04-10

Google Revamps Its Play Store for Android Phones, Tablets

Google's Play store app for Android smartphones and tablets now has a revamped look featuring larger images that "jump off the page" to help users find the content they are seeking.

The brighter, image-centric look for the new Play Store app was announced in an April 9 post by Michael Siliski, the group product manager for Google Play, on the Android Official Blog.

"Whether you're in the mood to listen to Justin Timberlake's new album, read Harlan Coben's latest bestseller or discover a new game to play, you want the experience of finding and making your purchase to be quick and easy," wrote Siliski. "Today we've started rolling out a redesigned Google Play store on Android phones and tablets that is simple, clean and—most importantly—helps you find great entertainment, fast."

The new app, which is now rolling out automatic updates to users, is available for devices running on Android 2.2 or above. The app rollout will continue around the world over the next several weeks.

"The new design focuses on bigger images that jump off the page," wrote Siliski. "Similarly themed content is grouped together so you can hone in on a magazine to read or an app to try. As you move down the page, new recommendations continue to appear so there is always more to see and explore. We've also simplified purchasing so you can breeze through checkout and get to enjoying your movie rental or other content."

The new app also offers some improvements for developers who want to get their apps into the Play store, wrote Purnima Kochikar, the director of business development for games and applications at Google.

"For developers, the new app offers more ways for your app to get noticed, as well as a new, simpler purchase flow," wrote Kochikar. "Collections are front and center on the homepage, helping users discover great content through recommendations and curated lists. Items in collections are now presented as cards, with a larger area for your app's graphics and a larger touch target for users. Overall, the homepage surfaces more apps than before and highlights them more effectively right on the page."

A key benefit for developers in the redesigned app is that "the new [user interface] offers a dramatically simplified, dialog-based purchase flow that lets users buy your products without leaving the context of the app," wrote Kochikar. "Your app remains active and visible behind the purchase dialogs. When the purchase is complete, users return directly to the place they left, without your app having to reconstruct its state."

In March, Google's Play store made some waves when the company removed at least four apps from the store that had allowed users to block advertisements that appear when using their Android devices. Google said that the ad-blocking apps violate Section 4.4 of the store's Developer Distribution Agreement, which prohibits the development or distribution of a product that "interferes with, disrupts, damages, or accesses in an unauthorized manner the devices, servers, networks, or other properties or services of any third party including, but not limited to, Android users, Google or any mobile network operator."

A huge portion of Google's revenue comes from ad revenues, so the ability of advertisers to get their ads in front of viewers' eyeballs is huge for the company.

Google Revamps Its Play Store for Android Phones, Tablets

In February, the Play store was assailed online by an Australian software developer who alleged that the company shares too much personal information about buyers who come to the Google Play store to purchase apps.

The developer, Dan Nolan, complained that using his Play store merchant account he could see the email addresses, cities and in many cases full names of the people who bought his app through the store, even if they had canceled their orders. The problem, he wrote, is that developers don't need such information and shouldn't be getting it because that is private data that shouldn't be shared.

Google Play, which was created in March 2012 to combine what until then were separate sites where Android lovers could buy their favorite apps, music and ebooks, has been a huge hitBefore Google Play, users had to shop through the individual Android Market, Google Music and Google e-Bookstore sites.

By September 2012, Google Play had served up more than 25 billion downloads to app- and game-hungry Android users, reaching a significant milestone in only six months.

According to Google, the 1 billion Android app download mark was reached in mid-2010, while the 2 billion app download mark was hit in mid-2011. That number soared to 10 billion by the end of 2011, then to 15 billion in early 2012, before soaring again to 25 million in September.

Google Play hosts more than 675,000 apps and games, up from about 450,000 in March 2012, according to Google.

Google Play has been Google's answer to Apple's App Store as both companies are locked in a fierce battle for the lion's share of the mobile-device market.

In the global smartphone market for the third quarter of 2012, Google's Android was the mobile OS of choice on 75 percent of the 181.1 million smartphones that shipped around the world, which was five times the 14.9 percent market share of Apple's iOS for the same period, according to IDC analysts.

Those figures show remarkable progress for the 4-year-old Android OS against competition that includes the still-strong popularity of Apple iOS, a drastically smaller BlackBerry market, Microsoft's multiple Windows Phone efforts and the rest of a straggling field.

Android use has been going through the roof worldwide. In fact, Android hit 500 million device activations overall in mid-September 2012, just as Apple's latest iPhone 5 was about to launch.

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