Enlarge / The new design of the Play Store website. It looks like the Android app.
The Google Play website is getting a long overdue redesign. Android Police was the first to spot the dramatic new look. It’s not entirely official yet, but it’s being rolled out for several people.
While the Play Store app is constantly updated on Android devices, the website has mostly been forgotten. The current design of the Google Play website dates back to 2013. The website has seen some small tweaks since then, but the structure of the website is still eight years old and presents content in a map theme that Google took over. The new website looks just like the Android app. That means a lot of white space and a layout that focuses on app icons and video thumbnails.
As early as 2013, Google introduced the Play Store as a one-stop shop for all Google content. At its peak, the Play Store sidebar had six sections: apps (and games), movies and TV, music (and podcasts), books, magazines (and news subscriptions), and even a physical “Devices” section for Nexus phones. Today, Google Play is much less powerful. Music was taken over by Google Play Music and is now a YouTube product. Podcasts are live on Google Podcasts now and will likely be picked up by YouTube in the future too. YouTube and Google Play Movies & TV currently overlap as both sell premium video content made in Hollywood. On some platforms such as Smart TVs, Google is discontinuing the play area in favor of YouTube. Devices are now being sold on the standalone Google Store website.
Enlarge / One page for a single app. There’s a huge title, a huge app icon, and then a double-pane layout.
With this new design, Google Play only offers apps (and games), movies and books. It’s a very strange selection of content right now. Assuming Google does the obvious and lets YouTube do the video distribution, it just needs to find a new home for books and then Google Play can just sell apps and games. The other interesting section change here is that “Games” is now the first section instead of Apps. Games are the most popular part of the play store and the biggest money makers, so that makes sense.
With a focus on apps, it looks like the Play Store will get a lot better at helping users find the apps they are looking for. Several screenshots show a form factor filter, a feature the Play Store website has badly needed for years. At last you can limit the Play Store to apps for phones, tablets, TVs, Chromebooks, watches or cars. Android devices come in a million form factors, and often the device-specific Play Store filters apps for compatibility, but since the Play Store website is neutral, it has mostly thrown everything into one big, unmanageable bucket. Particularly exciting is the “tablet” area, where it was previously only left to users to rummage through the phone’s app store.
You can now filter by form factors such as “tablet” or “clock”.
These new filters are yet another sign that Google is showing renewed interest in taking Android beyond phones, Android’s most successful form factor. It was only last year that Google relaunched its TV platform as “Google TV” and the first Android automotive car, the Polestar 2, was delivered. Google has revised Wear OS with the help of Samsung and announced a tablet and foldable version of Android called “Android 12L”. The Play Store is even offering discounted fees to developers who support more form factors, which will hopefully encourage developers to endorse more of these products. Allowing users to browse everything from the comfort of their web browser sounds like a great idea.
There’s no sign of Dark Mode support yet, but I would be shocked if this wasn’t one of the early updates when this becomes official. The other missing touch is a “Material You” color scheme, which is Android 12’s new color-customizing interface. The phone app matches the overall color scheme of your wallpaper while the website is still a stark white. Google says that one day it wants to sync your color choices with your Google account where it can work on the web, but it doesn’t yet, so the Play Store website is all white at the moment.
Android Police notes that the current design feels like “a work in progress” so it may take a while to be available to everyone. If you don’t currently have access to the new design and want a sneak peek, some people are reporting seeing the new design with the options for either the Korean or Taiwanese region.
Entry picture from Google Play Store