Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Google deletes Android Market app. But where is the Google Play replacement?

Starting today, Android Market, Google Music and the Google eBookstore will become part of Google Play. On your Android phone or tablet, we’ll be upgrading the Android Market app to the Google Play Store app over the coming days. 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.

Well.. maybe not so simple!

Google did introduce "Google Play" today, through the announcement above on the Google Mobile blog. (Cross-posted from the Official Google Blog).  Prior to the announcement, Google had already integrated Google Music, which the company announced as a Music Beta in November - 2011, into the Android Market. 

Since Google announced that the changeover from Android Market to Google Play was to begin today, the EE Daily News proceeded to conduct a test, starting with an HTC Thunderbolt  running Android Gingerbread, on Verizon's LTE Network.  When we selected the Android Market on the Thunderbolt, a message was immediately displayed - "Application not connected to device."  Then the familiar Android Market shopping bag icon instantly went "poof", obliterated from our home screen.

One might logically assume that we just happened to check the Thunderbolt at the same moment as the familiar Android Market shopping bag was being replaced with a Google Play icon through an automatic update. No such luck!  We were left wondering... how was a user to install apps now?

A reboot of the phone resulted in the same empty spot on our home screen, where the Android Market used to be, so our next step was to go to Google Play through the Android web browser.

When we selected "GO TO GOOGLE PLAY" through the web on play.google.com, we were presented with the option of completing the action through the Internet, or through the Play Store... a puzzling chicken-or-the egg conundrum.
We chose "Play Store", and were informed that "Android Market is upgrading to Google play". No kidding!

Selecting "Continue" led us to a list of Google's Terms of Service (TOS) for Google Play, Google Music, Google Books, and YouTube Rentals. Apparently, at Google, you can merge your apps but you just can't merge your lawyers. So much for simplification.

After doing all that, we still had a hole in our home screen. What happened to the replacement for the Android Market that we just installed?

We eventually found it, by going to "All Apps". Now we could fill the vacancy on our Thunderbolt's home screen.

There it is... a new, stylish (?) shopping bag with a multi-colored right-pointing arrow "Play" icon.  We will miss Mr Droid from the old shopping bag. With this new icon, Google is re-branding their services to break away from the realm of Android's mobile
ecosystem to something that is independently cloud-based, capable of running an any internet-connected device, regardless of the operating system. 

We tried the same procedure on three other devices, a Samsung Nexus S 4G, connected over WiFi to the same Google account as for the Thunderbolt, but disconnected from the Sprint Network, and a Droid Pro and a Droid-X running under different Google accounts on Verizon.

None of the other three devices presented us with the disappearing Android Market icon, when we selected the app for the old store. However, we did get the same Google TOS screen.. for Google Play.

Perhaps to make up for the inconvenience,  Google is offering discounted apps, music, books and movies for the next 7 days. Today's 25-cent music selection is "The 41st volume of Now That's What I Call Music", featuring such hits as "Sexy And I Know It" by LMFAO. And with Google Music... it's shareable!

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