Google Play

Get Android apps, games, and more from Google's official store

Google Play is the official app store of Google's mobile platform. It allows you to search for and download Android games, apps, widgets, and live wallpapers. The Google Play APK is no longer officially available to download and install, but comes pre-installed with almost all Android devices.

What does Google Play provide?

Google Play is a platform for you to view applications and other content before downloading to your phone. It indexes lots of information about each app, including the author's description, images, ratings, user comments and alternative suggestions. 

Using Google Play (formerly known as Android Market), you can consult the charts of the latest free and paid games and applications. Though Android is able to update applications automatically, Google Play allows you to check if you have the latest version of an app installed and download the latest update if necessary.

Google Play now offers more content besides apps, including Google Play Music, Google Play Books, and Google Play Movies & TV. Like Apple's iTunes for iOS, this makes Google Play an important hub for your digital life. 

Google Play allows you to set up wish lists of applications and content you'd like to download at a later point. It also lets you remotely install applications to your device from a web browser, syncing via your Google account.

Alternatives to Google Play

Although Google Play is generally easy to get around and it's simple to download and install Android apps, it's not perfect. Discovering new or interesting applications beyond the top lists offered by Google Play isn't always easy and there are other market apps for Android that can do a better job in this respect: 

AppBrain App Market provides app recommendations and shows you the new and hot apps of the day. It also contains a filter for seeing which Android apps have had a price drop.

Softonic App is our very own Android application guide. This app allows you to read Android app reviews from our team of expert independent experts. You can get recommendations of the best apps for a particular need be it traveling, eating out, networking and more.

Aptoide is another useful program for discovering new apps. Alternatively, you could install the Amazon Appstore, which includes exclusive applications not available on Google Play.

What's new in Google Play 5.0?

To cooincide with the release of Android Lollipop, Google has made some changes to the look and feel of the Google Play app. The latest version of Google Play is treated to the same Material design styling adopted by Lollipop and Google's other flagship app.

Look out for brighter, bolder colors, and more interesting transitions (the way the hamburger icon swivels and turns into a back arrow, for example). The new user interface has a flatter feel to it, and is very easy on the eye.

Other changes in Google Play 5.0 include a slightly redesigned app page, where the 'what's new' section appears above the app's description. There's also a slick new Google Play app icon, which is a flatter version of the traditional 3D paper bag design.

The verdict

Google Play is an essential component of the Android operating system. However, it's worth trying some of the above alternatives or other app recommendation services to help you unearth apps that lack visibility on Google Play.

Pros +
  • Search by keyword or category
  • Automatic app updates
  • Attractive design
  • Lots of content
Cons -
  • App selection can feel overwhelming at times

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