The Google Play website is getting a makeover that has been long overdue. The dramatic new look was originally noticed by Android Police. It isn’t quite official yet, but it is being rolled out to a number of people.
While the Android Play Store app is constantly updated, the website has largely been abandoned. The current design of the Google Play website comes from 2013. The site has undergone some minor changes since then, but its bones are still eight years old, and it displays content in a card format that Google has abandoned. The new website is designed to look exactly like the Android app. This means plenty of whitespace and a design that prioritises app icons and video thumbnails.
Google envisioned the Play Store as a one-stop shop for all Google content back in 2013. The Play Store sidebar had six parts at its peak: Apps (and games), Movies & TV, Music (and podcasts), Books, Magazines (and News subscriptions), Books, Magazines (and News subscriptions), and even a physical “Devices” area for Nexus phones. Google Play is no longer as powerful as it once was. The music was lifted from Google Play Music and is now available on YouTube. Google Podcasts currently hosts podcasts, which will most likely be taken over by YouTube in the future. Because both YouTube and Google Play Movies & TV sell premium Hollywood video material, they now overlap. Google is deprecating the Play area in favour of YouTube on select platforms, such as Smart TVs. Devices are now available for purchase on the Google Store’s own website.
Apps (and games), Movies, and Books are now the only things available on Google Play. Right now, there’s a strange mix of content. Assuming Google does the obvious and lets YouTube handle video distribution, all that’s left is to find a new home for Books, and Google Play will be free to offer apps and games. Another notable section change is that “Games” has replaced “Apps” as the first part. That makes sense because games are the most popular area of the Play Store and the most profitable.
With a focus on apps, it appears like the Play Store will get a lot better at assisting customers in finding the apps they want. Several screenshots reveal a form factor filter, which has been long overdue on the Play Store website. You’ll be able to restrict the Play Store to apps for Phones, Tablets, TVs, Chromebooks, Watches, and Cars for the first time.
Since the Play Store website is neutral ground, it has mostly just thrown everything into one big, unmanageable bucket. Android devices come in a million different form factors, and the device-specific Play Store will often filter apps for compatibility, but since the Play Store website is neutral ground, it has mostly just thrown everything into one big, unmanageable bucket. It’s especially thrilling to see a “Tablet” section, as users previously had to scour the phone app store for options.
These new filters are just another hint that Google is rekindling its interest in expanding Android’s reach beyond phones, the platform’s most popular form factor. In the last year, Google rebranded its TV platform as “Google TV,” while the Polestar 2, the first Android Automotive vehicle, began selling. Google redesigned Wear OS with Samsung’s aid, and it revealed “Android 12L,” a tablet and foldable-focused version of Android. The Play Store is also offering discounted fees to developers who support more form factors, in the hopes of encouraging more of these items to be supported. Allowing consumers to comb through everything from the convenience of their web browsers seems like a fantastic concept.
There’s no hint of dark-mode support yet, but I’d be surprised if it wasn’t one of the first upgrades once this is officially announced. The “Material You” colour scheme, which is part of Android 12’s new color-matching UI, is also absent. The phone app matches your wallpaper’s overall colour scheme, whereas the website remains a stark white. Google claims it hopes to sync your colour preferences across your Google account so it can function on the web one day, but that feature doesn’t exist yet, thus the Play Store website is currently a stark white.
The present look, according to Android Police, feels like “work in progress,” so it could be a long before it reaches everyone. If you don’t have access to the new design right now and want a sneak peek, some users have reported seeing it in the Korean or Taiwanese region options.