What is Google Play Store? Well, from the mobile standpoint, it’s an app, though it’s actually a platform. So, it’s essentially far more than that, which is something we’ll get down to in a minute. In this article, we’ll talk about the Google Play Store, and try to answer quite a few questions, most of which are quite basic. That is the point of this article, to share as much information about Google’s Play Store platform as possible. So, let’s get started.
What is Google Play Store?
So, what is Google Play Store? As mentioned in the introduction, it’s a platform. It’s Google’s platform for offering various digital content to its consumers. Contrary to what some people may think, the Google Play Store is not just an app store, not at all. You will find all sorts of content available here. The Google Play Store is home to music, movies, books, and games… in addition to your regular Android applications.
Google is offering a huge collection of music from all around the world, though that requires a subscription, or a one-time payment, as you can digitally purchase content. Movies and books are available to purchase, while there are tons of free apps and games available. Some of those apps/games require payment, and some do not, but everything is clearly stated in app listings.
Do all Android smartphones come with Google Play Store pre-installed?
No, they do not. The Google Play Store is pre-installed on smartphones that ship with Google Mobile Services (GMS). Granted, those are the vast majority of phones out there, and the vast majority of phones you can purchase. We are talking about Android as a platform here, and Android is open-sourced. It’s free to use, and manufacturers are not forced to pre-install Google Mobile Services if they don’t want to, not at all.
Consumers are used to Google Mobile Services, which include a number of pre-installed apps by Google. For that reason, pretty much every smartphone manufacturer that sells Android phones will have them pre-installed. There are some exceptions, though. Huawei, one of the largest smartphone manufacturers in the world is banned from pre-installing GMS on its phones by the US. There’s a long story behind it, but that was the case at the time of writing this article.
What sort of content can be found on the Google Play Store?
The Google Play Store is home to not only apps and games but some additional digital content as well. You can books in the Play Store. Google basically launched the Play Store as a hub for its users to get all sorts of digital content. The main content would probably be apps and games, as the Play Store was mainly launched for Android smartphones.
Having said that, the service offered movies and music at one point too, but that changed over the years. Google Play Music is a thing of the past now, as YouTube Music replaced it entirely. Movies are also gone from the Google Play Store, as Google TV is now here. Books are still available, though, alongside apps and games.
Do I have to download apps from the Google Play Store if it’s pre-installed?
Google recommends that you download all your Android applications from the Play Store, especially if it comes pre-installed. The company does its best to vet all the apps that are submitted to the Play Store. In other words, the company tries to make sure that no malware makes its way to the store. The Google Play Store is not the only source to download Android applications, though.
We’ll talk about that in the next paragraph. But before that, let’s just say that the vast majority of users should use the Play Store and only the Play Store. If you opt to use a third-party store, you should use a legit one. If you sideload Android applications, you should also use a source that is reliable. Otherwise, you could get malware in the package with an app you’re getting, and that’s certainly something you want to avoid.
What are Google Play Store alternatives?
There are actually quite a few stores that come to mind. Huawei’s AppGallery is the company’s very own app store, while Samsung has its app store for Android applications as well. There is the Amazon app store as well, while some other smartphone manufacturers offer their own iterations as well. Now, there are some legit Android applications out there that are not available via the Play Store.
The main reason for that is because they’re breaking the rules, even though those specific apps are not dangerous. Some of them are allowing you to access features Google is blocking, like playing YouTube videos in the background, for example. Good examples of such app stores are F-Droid and XDA Labs. You’ll find a ton of interesting apps there, apps that are not available in the Play Store. The best of all, those apps have been vetted for security issues as well.
What about sideloading?
Well, sideloading is also an alternative to the Play Store, kind of. If you really want to get the latest version of an Android app that you know is out, but it still has not arrived on your phone, you can always sideload it. Or if you want to install an app that is not available in your region, and thus not visible in the Play Store. You can download the APK file (Android app file), and install it manually on your device.
The procedure is quite simple, as all you have to do is install it, enable your phone to install apps from unknown sources, and that’s it. Just make sure to download those APKs from sources you trust. The best way to go about it is to visit APKMirror. That website has been around for a long time, and it always verifies signatures for specific Android applications. This is also a great way to get alpha and beta versions of some applications if you want.
How do I update apps via the Google Play Store?
Updating applications via the Play Store is really simple, and you need to do that via your smartphone This is not even something you have to do manually, as your phone is set by default to update apps automatically. It will do so when you’re connected to Wi-Fi, and check if new updates are available automatically as well. If you’d like to keep it that way, you don’t have to do anything.
If, for some reason, you’d like to update manually, that is an option. Perhaps you’d like to see the changelog before updating, or something of the sort. First, you’ll need to go to the Play Store options on your phone and disable automatic updates. Your phone will let you know when an update is available, if you do this, after which you can navigate to the hamburger menu of the Play Store, hit ‘My apps & games’ option, and you’ll see what updates are available. Alternatively, you can hit the notification that lets you know updates are available.
How do I uninstall apps via the Google Play Store?
Chances are you already know how to uninstall apps from the app drawer, or your phone’s settings. Well, you can uninstall them via the Google Play Store as well. They can be uninstalled from the same menu that you’d use to update your apps. So, you need to open the app, open the hamburger menu on the left, and then hit the ‘My apps & games’ option. There you’ll see three tabs at the top, Updates, Installed, and Library.
You need to aim for the ‘Installed’ tab, where you can see all your installed apps. You can either open an app from here or tap on it to be able to uninstall it. This will essentially do the same thing you’d do directly from your phone’s settings or the app drawer. You can even sort apps here to see which ones you’ve installed most recently, check out their reviews, check out how much phone storage your apps take up, and so on.
Does Google Play Store support a dark theme?
Yes, the Google Play Store does support a dark theme. It was first made available to Android 10 users only, in 2019. In March 2020, Google pushed it to everyone, basically. There is a physical switch in the Play Store settings. Once you enter settings, you will see the ‘Theme’ menu. Tap it, and there you’ll be able to select System default, Dark, or Light themes, depending on your preference.
The Google Play Store dark theme is now pitch black. It follows Google’s design from its other apps. Google opted to use a really dark gray color here, not exactly black. That’s Google’s choice, and it works, though perhaps it would be a better idea to go all black. It is what it is, though, at least there are options.
Can I uninstall the Google Play Store from my phone?
Well, chances are you cannot. If the Google Play Store app came pre-installed on your phone, it’s quite possible that the device won’t let you uninstall it. You can do it if you root your phone, and get admin privileges by doing so, but that’s about it. That goes only if you’ve purchased a phone that is not pre-rooted or something of the sort. If it’s second-hand, it is possible that someone already messed with it.
If you root your phone, you’ll be able to remove the Play Store, but that’s not exactly recommended. Before you do, however, make sure you have another app store on hand, so that you can download applications. That is not a requirement, but it sure is recommended, so that you don’t have to manually download them from the APK Mirror website, or something of the sort.
How does the Android Market relate to the Google Play Store?
Android Market = Google Play Store. Confused? Well, the Google Play Store was initially called the Android Market. Back when it launched, in October 2008, it was called Android Market. Back then, only applications and games were available via that app.
Google opted to rename the service years later, in 2012, when it started adding music, books, and so on. It considered that to be a more appropriate term, and that’s probably true, as it’s not focused on Android only.
Are non-Android apps available via the Google Play Store?
No, they’re not. The Google Play Store contains applications for the Android system only. As already mentioned, other content is available, but as far as applications and games are concerned, only Android is supported. You can utilize music, movies, and books on other platforms, though. Chances are that this will not happen, as the Play Store has been made mainly for Android.
How many applications are there in the Google Play Store?
As of January 2024, it was reported that 3.5 million apps are available to download from the Play Store. Back in March 2020, there were over 2.8 million applications available in the Google Play Store. Do note that prior to the summer of 2018, there were also 3.5 million apps in the Google Play Store, as are nowadays (early 2024). Google has decided to remove large quantities of applications from the Play Store in the summer of 2018. Why? Well, mostly due to an updated version of the company’s Developer Policy. When the company did that, the number of apps dropped from over 3.5 million to just over 2.5 million. Since then, however, the Play Store grew quite a bit, to 3.5 million again.
The article has been updated on February 5, 2024.