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Google Play launched - a one-stop shop for digital content

Barry de la Rosa
7 Mar 2012
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UK users once again left to wait for a major part of the service

Google has announced that it's re-branding the Android Market as Google Play, integrating its apps and games store with its ebook store and film rental service. In the US, Google's new Music service will also be integrated, although UK users won't be able to access this even if they've managed to sign up for Google Music through an Android 4.0 phone. UK users with a Google Music account will notice a change in the site's logo, but when they try and click on a link to buy music, they'll get the usual message: "We're sorry, the document you requested is not available in your country."

To celebrate the launch, Google is offering a limited number of apps, games, music, films and books at a discount. A selection of apps are available for only 49p each, including TuneIn Radio Pro, SoundHound, Endomondo Sports Tracker PRO, SwiftKey X Keyboard and Camera Zoom FX, along with a good selection of games.

Google Play

The Android Market is no more, and in its place is the rather blandly-named Google Play

There's also a deal on film rentals for a limited time, letting you rent a movie for only 99p. Films rented through Play can be watched within 30 days of paying, but once you start watching a film you have to finish it within 48 hours. Google is also introducing the Play of the Day, a daily offer in each section of the site for only 20p.

The lack of Google Music integration means UK users who own an Android phone won't have a completely integrated store for all their needs, such as that provided by Apple with iTunes for iOS devices. Google Music lets you upload up to 20,000 songs to the cloud in any format and listen to them on an Android device or computer, and it also includes a shop that suggests music based on what you've already uploaded.

The re-branding also hasn't fixed many back-end issues, such as the awful interface for managing multiple Android devices or the long list of all the apps you've ever installed, which can't be edited to remove apps you don't want any more. When you sign into a new Android phone, you're offered the choice of restoring your apps from a previous device - it would be nice if Play let you edit this collection of apps to remove those you no longer want.

Still, it's a step in the right direction for Android content, though a few more will be needed before it catches up with its big rival.

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