Google Play made its official debut on Tuesday, March 27, after a soft opening earlier this month. The Android Marketplace, where Google smartphone users went for apps, has been re-branded as the Google Play store. Google made the switch on March 6, 2012, releasing a short video on YouTube and redirecting users from the old web site, market.android.com, to the new Google Play homepage. Google also put dozens of apps and games on sale for just 49 cents in celebration of the shift.
But what exactly is Google changing besides the name of its app market? The answer is: not a whole lot. However, several features have been tweaked or expanded. The move appears to be more geared towards creating a broader uniformed line-up of Google products. Nonetheless, here are the five most important things to know about the change, so far as we can tell:
1) Nothing drastic is changing. Everything you knew about the Android Market is still true about Google Play. Even the website is familiar, and the changes will not affect digital content already on Google devices in password protected accounts. For those whose devices are running on Android 2.1 or lower the changes will not go into effect at all.
2) The Power of the cloud. By storing information and digital content in online servers, Google will make everything you purchase in the Google Play store instantly available on all your devices. That means no more plugging in and no waiting. As soon as your content is on one device it's on them all. Everything you purchase in the Google Play store is instantly uploaded to the cloud, and Google will even let you upload 20,000 of your own songs for free.
3) Get it on Google Play. Google's new tagline rolls pleasantly off the tongue, but it also suggests the biggest difference between Google Play and the Android Market. Google is hoping that the same people who went to the market for smartphone apps and games will start realizing they can buy all their digital content in the same place. Once this happens Google may be able to entice more digital retailers to their new marketplace. Google is already offering 450,000 apps, as well as millions of songs and e-books.
4) Share with your friends on Google+. Google Play will automatically sync with Google Play, as well the rest of Google's suite of free services. This means you'll be able to instantly share whatever you're enjoying at the moment. Once you find something you like on your phone, tablet or computer you can quickly share it with your friends on Google+ in a single click.
5) Personalized music recommendations. Google will be watching what music you listen to, just like they watch what you search on Google and what emails you receive on Gmail. Based on your interests the Google Play Store will recommend what music you should buy.