The Google I/O event brought with it a lot of new stuff, including the widely rumoured Asus Nexus 7, Android 4.1 codenamed Jelly Bean, the Nexus Q and a fantastic preview of Google Glass. Among these, the Google Play store also received a few updates, which should make life easier for both app developers and end users.
The biggest change in the Google Play store is probably the inclusion of more types of digital content. The Play store now allows users to download movies, TV shows and magazines, as opposed to merely renting them. By allowing users to maintain a complete digital library of music, books, magazines, movies, TV shows and games, Google is going head on with services like Netflix and Apple’s iTunes Store. However, these services are not available in India at the moment.
The Google Play store now supports ‘Smart App Updates’ which allows developers to push incremental updates to their apps instead of having users download the entire APK all over again. This can decrease the filesize to be downloaded by almost a third. In a bid to discourage app piracy, paid apps are now encrypted with a device specific key, making it harder for users to simply rip the apk and share it with others.
The Play store now includes improved app management features, letting users uninstall and update apps from the website itself. A new section called ‘My Android Apps’ gives users a dashboard from where they can preview all their installed apps, and choose to update or remove apps from the comfort of their computers. However, system apps (apps that come pre-installed by handset manufacturers or carriers) cannot be removed this way. A section called ‘Other Apps in My Library’ shows you apps that you’ve downloaded in the past, but aren’t present on your device any more, letting you return to an app to give it another try.
An indication of Android’s massive growth, Google revealed that Android’s user base has grown from 100 million to 400 million in just one year, with 1 million new Android devices being activated each day. Growth has been strong in developing markets like Brazil, India and European countries like France, where Android adoption has increased phenomenally. Google also reported that the Play Store now houses over 600,000 apps and games, and has crossed 20 billion app installs.