According to Google Google Play is "a digital entertainment destination where you can find, enjoy and share your favorite music, movies, books and apps on the web and on your Android phone or tablet. Google Play is entirely cloud-based so all your music, movies, books and apps are stored online, always available to you, and you never have to worry about losing them or moving them again."
Specifically, With Google Play you can:
- Store up to 20,000 songs for free and buy millions of new tracks
- Download more than 450,000 Android apps and games
- Browse the world's largest selection of eBooks
- Rent thousands of your favorite movies, including new releases and HD titles
The four Google services have already been incorporated into Google Play on PCs. On Android phone or tablet, Google will be upgrading the Android Market app to the Google Play Store app over the coming days. Google promises, "Your videos, books and music apps (in countries where they are available) will also be upgraded to Google Play Movies, Google Play Books and Google Play Music apps. The music, movies, books and apps you've purchased will continue to be available to you through Google Play-simply log in with your Google account like always."
That is indeed the case. I just checked my Google Music and Google eBookstore cloud accounts and all my music and eBooks are still present and accounted for.
Any music you've uploaded to Google Music will still be there and be ready to be played in Google Play.
Exactly what services you'll get depends on your location. Google states that "In the U.S., music, movies, books and Android apps are available in Google Play. In Canada and the U.K., we'll offer movies, books and Android apps; in Australia, books and apps; and in Japan, movies and apps. Everywhere else, Google Play will be the new home for Android apps. Our long-term goal is to roll out as many different types of content as possible to people around the world, and we'll keep adding new content to keep it fresh."
The point of Google Play is to combine all your entertainment media into one cloud-based system that you can then access from any computer or any Android device. The idea is to make it mindlessly simple to read, play, watch, or listen to any of your content no matter where you are.
Google Play seems to work with all mainstream Web browsers. I've tried it now with Firefox 10, IE 9 and Chrome 17. Videos are shown via YouTube and require Adobe Flash.
It's a promising idea and one that might worry Amazon and Apple. Both have their own cloud-based entertainment plans but nothing quite as comprehensive as Google's do-it-all Google Play. For example, Apple doesn't have a version of iBooks for the Mac desktop.
It's also possible that, as some have suggested, that Google Play will be entertainment hub for the rumored Google 7-inch tablet. I'm still not sure we'll see a Google-branded Android-powered tablet. I am sure, however that Apple, Amazon and anyone else in the digital entertainment business is going to have to pay close attention to Google Play and where Google takes it from here.