When My Samsung Galaxy Tab was published in December 2011, Google had two different places for you to find apps and multimedia: Google Music for playing music and Android Market for everything else. Since December, Google decided to combine the two services into one and rename it the Google Play Store. If you’ve updated your Galaxy Tab recently then you probably know that Android Market has been replaced with the Play Store that contains four different categories shown in Figure 1: Apps, Music, Books, and Movies.
Figure 1. The opening screen in the Google Play Store has four categories to choose from.
The four categories appear in the upper right of the screen, but you can also scroll up and down the page to view promotions in the Play Store such as Mother’s Day ideas. If you want to access one of the four categories, tap one of them. When you tap the Apps button, the Apps category appears with featured apps shown in Figure 2.
Figure 2. The Apps category displays the featured apps area by default.
The Featured area contains a number of apps you may be interested in as decided by the Google Play Store people. Scroll down the screen to see all the featured picks. At the top of the page you’ll see a section title bar that has the Featured title in the middle, Categories to the left, and Top Paid to the right. You can swipe left or right in the bar to view each area underneath the bar. For example, if you swipe from left to right you’ll open the Categories section shown in Figure 3.
Figure 3. The Categories section.
The featured apps move over to the right and make room for the list of categories. Scroll up and down the list and then tap the category you want to view. For example, when you tap Photography, the Photography category appears with a list of top paid apps shown in Figure 4. That is, all the apps in this section require you to pay a small fee to use them.
Figure 4. The Top Paid section in the Photography category.
Like the Android Market it replaces, the Google Play Store shows the app listing in a box, and there are three app listing boxes in each row. Each app listing shows the name of the app, the producer of the app, the number of stars from reviewers (and/or if the app is a Google Play Store Editors’ Choice), and the price of the app.
As you scroll down the page you’ll see more apps come into view, and the apps are numbered sequentially in the list from left to right so you can see how many apps there are. When you get to the bottom you can’t scroll down anymore.
Just as with the Android Market, you can get more information about the app, download the app, and purchase it if necessary by tapping the app listing box. The format of the listing has changed little from the Android Market as you can see in the Paper Camera app page shown in Figure 5.
Figure 5. The Paper Camera app page.
The app page is split into two columns. The column on the left has the app icon with the aggregated review from users from one (bad) to five (great) stars underneath. Under the review you’ll see a blue button with the price for the app. Tap on the button to purchase and download the app. Scroll down the column to get developer information such as the company Web site and e-mail address.
In the right column, scroll down the column to view the app description, find out what’s new in the latest version, read customer reviews, and also get suggestions for other apps you may be interested in. If you find that the screen has content you find objectionable, you can tap Flag as inappropriate at the bottom of the column to alert the Google Play Store people.
In the upper right corner of the window you’ll see the Share icon in the black bar, which looks like a sideways V. When you tap the Share icon you can share the link to the app in a number of ways, such as in an e-mail message. If you decide that you don’t want to share, just tap anywhere outside the Share menu box that appears in the center of the screen.
You can return to the Categories list by tapping the back button in the lower left corner of the screen. Move to the Top Free section by swiping from right to left in the section title bar. Keep flicking from right to left to view apps in the Top Grossing, Top New Paid, and Top New Free sections. When you reach the beginning or the end of the section titles in the bar you won’t see a section title on the left or right side of the bar, respectively.
Go back to the Categories screen by tapping the Google Play Store shopping bag icon in the upper left corner of the screen. In the Categories screen’s section bar, you can swipe right to left to view apps in the Featured, Top Paid, Top Free, Top Grossing, Top New Paid, Top New Free, and Trending sections. The Trending section shows a number of new apps that are being downloaded more often. All of these sections should help you choose the app that’s right for you.
But what if you want to search for a specific app as you did in the Android Market? Fortunately the search functionality in the Google Play Store is the same as in the Android Market. Just tap the Search icon in the upper right corner of the screen, type the name of the app you’re searching for, and then tap the Search button in the keyboard. You can also tap the microphone icon to the right of the Search Google Play box to speak your search terms to your Tab.
After you tap the Search button or you finish speaking, the Google Play Store will show you all the installed, free, and paid apps in either the area you searched for (e.g., news) or the specific app you searched for as well as related apps. For example, if I search for Spotify, which is a music streaming service that’s the subject of another article of mine you can read about (Author wishes to insert a link here to “Exploring the Spotify Ecosystem with Android” which has been submitted alongside this article.), you’ll see the Spotify app in the upper left corner of the list shown in Figure 6. You’ll also see a list of apps that enhance your Spotify experience.
Figure 6. The list of Spotify apps in the search results.
If you want to return to the main Google Play Store page, tap the Google Play Store shopping bag icon until you arrive at the main Google Play screen. Then you can tap another category to view it. In each category you’ll see some sections that are constant across all categories, such as the Features section that’s the default section for every category, and differences as well. For example, in the books section title you can swipe right to left to view the New Arrivals in Fiction screen shown in Figure 7.
Figure 7. The New Arrivals in Fiction section within the Books category.
As in any other category section, you can tap the name of the book listing box to get more information about that book. If you want to search for a book, just tap the Search icon and search for the book as you would with an app. Depending on the category you’re in, you’ll also see an icon in the upper right corner of the screen so you can access the app related to the category. For example, in the Music category you’ll see the Google Play Music icon to the left of the Search icon shown in Figure 8. When you tap the icon you’ll open the Play Music app on your Tab so you can listen to your recently downloaded songs or any other songs you have in your catalog.
Figure 8. The Google Play Music icon.
If you want to change Google Play Store settings, tap the Menu icon in the upper right corner of the screen (to the right of the Search icon) and then tap Settings. Scroll down the list of settings in the Settings screen shown in Figure 9 to view and/or change settings in the General, User controls, Other, and About sections.
Figure 9. The Settings screen.
For example, if you want to set the content filtering level on your Tab so your child doesn’t download inappropriate material, tap Content filtering in the User controls section. The default apps you can view are all of them, but you can select the apps to show based on the maturity level that’s included with the app shown in Figure 10.
Figure 10. The Content filtering menu.
For example, if you want the user to view only those apps rated for everyone and for people of low and medium maturity, clear the High maturity and Show all apps checkboxes. Tap OK to apply your changes, close the Settings screen, and return to where you were previously in the Play Store.
Now that you’ve had a tour of the Play Store, feel free to explore and discover everything that the Play Store has to offer. Enjoy your shopping!
Eric Butow Eric Butow is the owner of Butow Communications Group (BCG) in Jackson, California. BCG offers Web development, online marketing, technical documentation, and computer-based services. He has written 18 books, with two more books in development for publication in fall 2012. Eric has also developed and taught networking and usability courses for Ed2Go and California State University, Sacramento.
When he’s not working in (and on) his business or writing books, you can find Eric enjoying time with friends, walking around the historic Gold Rush town of Jackson, and helping his parents manage their infant and toddler daycare business.