With the Google Play Store app, download apps and games for your Android phone or tablet. The Play Store also serves as an entertainment hub, letting you buy or rent movies, TV shows, books, and music, which you can watch or listen to on your Android device, Chromecast-connected TV, and through the Chrome browser on your Mac or Windows PC.
Protects device by vetting apps: Google uses in-store and on-device monitoring to guard against harmful apps. Google claims only 0.05 percent of Android devices that download apps solely from its Play Store have a potentially harmful app.
The app also includes Google Play Protect, which periodically scans your device for potentially harmful apps and checks apps before you download them from the Google Play Store.
Listen to music for free or with a subscription: Google Play Music offers a competitive alternative to other music services, such as Spotify and Apple Music with personalized playlists and radio stations, podcasts, albums, and individual song tracks you can listen to for free or with a subscription. (Some of the personalization comes from Google’s Songza purchase.) A $9.99 monthly individual subscription gives you unlimited skips and an ad-free music stream. And Google seems to be constantly offering a multi-month free trial of Play Music, so you can try it out for free for a few months to see if you like it before paying for it.
Watch movies and TV shows: Again, going toe-to-toe with video store competitors Apple and Amazon, Google’s Play Movies & TV store lets you purchase or rent films and shows you can watch on your Android phone, computer, or Chromecast-connected TV. You can choose either SD or HD formats (priced accordingly).
Share with the family: Through Google’s Play Store’s Family Library, you can share eligible apps, films, TV shows, games, and eBooks with up to five members of your family.
Shop in Google Play through a desktop browser: Of course, you can shop in the Play Store with the Android app, but you can also browse and buy apps and media and manage your account via a browser. Using the browser version is handy, letting you quickly manage your account, view your order history, and find and install new apps. Unfortunately, to check for and install updates, you need to use the app. (If you can’t find Google’s Play Store on your Android phone, check out our guide for how to locate and enable it.)
Google’s hands-off approach to apps: While Google talks up security, it seems less concerned about the quality of apps it lets in its store. Popular apps attract copycats — with deceptively similar names and icons — and picking out the original among the fakes can be tough.
Google Music not included in Family Sharing: Play Music is not part of the Google Play family plan. To share music with five family members, you need a separate $14.99 per month music subscription.
Google Play Protect not up to the task: The independent security testing firm AV-Test found Play Protect lagged far behind the top Android antivirus in detecting malware and noted that those relying only on Play Protect to guard their phone are taking an unnecessary risk.