Google Play Store is a digital distribution service operated and developed by Google. It serves as the official app store for the Android operating system, allowing users to browse and download applications developed with the Android software development kit (SDK) and published through Google. Google Play also serves as a digital media store, offering music, magazines, books, movies, and television programs. Applications are available through Google Play either free of charge or at a cost. They can be downloaded directly on an Android device through the Play Store mobile app or by deploying the application to a device from the Google Play website. Applications exploiting hardware capabilities of a device can be targeted to users of devices with specific hardware components, such as a motion sensor (for motion dependent games) or a front-facing camera (for online video calling). It has been the subject of multiple issues concerning security, in which malicious software has been approved and uploaded to the store and downloaded by users, with varying degrees of severity. The services operating under the Google Play banner are: Google Play Books, Google Play Games, Google Play Movies & TV, Google Play Music, and Google Play Newsstand.
Apart from searching for content by name, apps can also be searched through keywords provided by the developer. When searching for apps, users can press on suggested search filters, helping them to find apps matching the determined filters. For the discoverability of apps, Play Store consists of lists featuring top apps in each category, including “Top Free”, a list of the most popular free apps of all time; “Top Paid”, a list of the most popular paid apps of all time; “Top Grossing”, a list of apps generating the highest amounts of revenue; “Trending Apps”, a list of apps with recent installation growth; “Top New Free”, a list of the most popular new free apps; “Top New Paid”, a list of the most popular new paid apps; “Featured”, a list of new apps selected by the Google Play team; “Staff Picks”, a frequently updated list of apps selected by the Google Play team; “Editors’ Choice”, a list of apps considered the best of all time; and “Top Developer”, a list of apps made by developers considered the best. In March 2017, Google added a “Free App of the Week” section, offering one normally paid app for free. Google Play enables users to know the popularity of apps, by displaying the number of times the app has been downloaded.
Google has redesigned Google Play’s interface on several occasions. Google states in its Developer Policy Center that “Google Play supports a variety of monetization strategies to benefit developers and users, including paid distribution, in app products, subscriptions, and ad-based models”, and requires developers to comply with the policies in order to “ensure the best user experience”. It requires that developers charging for apps and downloads through Google Play must use Google Play’s payment system. In-app purchases unlocking additional app functionality must also use the Google Play payment system, except in cases where the purchase “is solely for physical products” or “is for digital content that may be consumed outside of the app itself Google introduced in-app subscriptions to Google Play in May 2012. In June 2016, Google announced that subscriptions charged through Google Play would now split the revenue 85/15, where developers receive 85% of revenue and Google only takes 15%, a change from the traditional 70/30 split in years prior. The move followed Apple’s then-recently announced change of the same model, although commentators were quick to point out that while Apple only grants the 85/15 revenue share after one year of active subscriptions, Google’s subscription change takes effect immediately.
Play Store is Google’s official pre-installed app store on Android-certified devices. It provides access to content on the Google Play Store, including apps, books, magazines, music, movies, and television programs. Play Store filters the list of apps to those compatible with the user’s device. Developers can target specific hardware components (such as compass), software components (such as widget), and Android versions (such as 7.0 Nougat). Carriers can also ban certain apps from being installed on users’ devices, for example tethering applications.There is no requirement that Android applications must be acquired using the Play Store. Users may download Android applications from a developer’s website or through a third-party app store alternative. Play Store applications are self-contained Android Package files (APK), similar to .exe files to install programs on Microsoft Windows computers. On Android devices, an “Unknown sources” feature in Settings allows users to bypass the Play Store and install APKs from other sources. Depending on developer preferences, some apps can be installed to a phone’s external storage card. Google publishes the source code for Android through its “Android Open Source Project”, allowing enthusiasts and developers to program and distribute their own modified versions of the operating system.