Google Play on the Nexus 7: Features explained
The price point of the Nexus 7 tablet is so low that it leaves plenty of money in your pocket for spending elsewhere. Google wants you to pour these pennies into its revamped Google Play store, which has features embedded deep into every aspect of Jelly Bean and the Nexus 7.
Heck the tablet even comes with a £15 credit to spend on the store and a free download of Transformers: Dark of the Moon. This makes the Nexus 7 one of the best-value entertainment devices you can get right now. Forget the possibilities of apps and the rest, this feature is just about what Google Play can offer to keep you occupied on the Nexus 7 and what you might be missing out on.
The first big change to Google Play is Play Movies, which shines on the Nexus 7. You can get this on other Android devices right now, and the app should have updated itself recently. The Play Movies app handles your video content.
Play Movies has a very simple splash screen, listing suggestions of movies you might like to take a look at. A tabs at the top switches over to your own collection of videos.
Down the bottom of the app is a link to see more from Google Play. This will fire up the Google Play and take you directly to the movies section of the store. From there it's business as usual, with tabs at the top and left to right swiping to navigate different sections. There are lists of top selling videos, new releases, featured content and categories.
On the Nexus 7 you also get a movie recommendation widget which you can slap onto the home screen. This lists featured videos and other content you might like to take a look at. It's definitely slick and the movies are mostly available to rent in both HD and SD, the former costing slightly more.
If you do rent a video, then you have 30 days to start watching it and 24 hours from the moment you start playback. Anything you rent can also be watched on other Google devices, say on the desktop or another smartphone.
Google Play is now getting magazines, with a Newsstand-style app launching on the Nexus 7 and other Android devices. Play Magazines lets you scroll through titles from publishers such as Conde Nast, Hearst and others.
You can buy a single issue or a subscription to each. There is also a widget, just like with movies, which lets you look at Play Magazines.
We are yet to determine if this is going to be a Jelly Bean only or a US specific service, but we doubt it. Google is going to want to maximise sales so probably depends on what sorts of deals the big G can strike with publishers in the UK and we'd expect to see it in all versions of Android.
Television programme rentals
This one doesn't look like it has yet materialised outside the US, but was a missing piece in the entertainment offering. Google Play is now to support television programme rental, as well as the ability to download and view episodes offline. You'll be able to buy single episodes or entire "seasons".
Shown off at Google I/O was a clip from an episode of The Office on a Nexus 7. It is a likely step for Google to launch TV rentals in the UK and one which would bring its service in line with the likes of Apple for content.
Google boasted that it has a library of 4 million books, accessed through Play Books. Taking on a much nicer UI than previous attempts, it now feels like an app and service which can compete with the likes of the Kindle and iPad.
The app needs to, as the price point of the Nexus 7 has it aimed clearly at things like the Kindle Fire. A new page animation and a nicely laid out book library, coupled with direct access to the Play Store from within the app, make for a much cleaner experience. There is also a recommendations widget and a "my library" widget.
Right now attempting to get on to the Play Music store from the UK gives us a page explaining it is US only. This is a shame as with the Nexus 7 comes an improved Music app and widget and Google Music's cloud offering.
This is a fairly substantial hole in the entertainment offering, as Google Music connects your devices, storing your music in the cloud and letting you stream it or download it on other connected devices.
The device will also work with the Nexus Q player, which again is looking like it is US only for the time being, the lack of the connected cloud experience is, we're sure, a large part of that decision.
To sum up, the Nexus 7 offers a wide gamut of entertainment options, but those outside the US are currently missing out on several pieces of this puzzle. With the Nexus 7 launching in a number of territories, we'd hope to see Google fill the gaps and make the experience more unilateral for all users.
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