Google Play, formerly Android Market, is a digital distribution service operated and developed by Google. It serves as the official app store for devices running on “Google certified” 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, books, movies, and television programs. It previously offered Google hardware devices for purchase until the introduction of a separate online hardware retailer, Google Store, on March 11, 2015, and it also offered news publications and magazines before the revamp of Google News on May 15, 2018.
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 proprietary Play Store mobile app or by deploying the application to a device from the Google Play website. Applications utilizing 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). The Google Play store had over 82 billion app downloads in 2016 and has reached over 3.5 million apps published in 2017. 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.
Google Play was launched on March 6, 2012, bringing together Android Market, Google Music, and the Google eBookstore under one brand, marking a shift in Google’s digital distribution strategy. The services included in Google Play are Google Play Books, Google Play Games, Google Play Movies & TV and Google Play Music, and formerly Google Play Newsstand before being phased out of Google Play completely in November 2018. Following their re-branding, Google has gradually expanded the geographical support for each of the services.