In the Google world, there are probably two store names you’ve seen. Although the Google Play Store and the Google Store are similar, they are very different. Each serves an important purpose in the Google ecosystem.
What is the Google Play Store?
The Google Play Store – also known as simply ‘Google Play’ – is the company’s digital marketplace. It is pre-installed on Android phones and tablets, as well as Android TV and Google TV devices. The Play Store can also be accessed online through any web browser.
The main purpose of the Play Store is to be a place where Android users can download apps and games. In fact, it used to be called the ‘Android Market’. It used to only have Android apps and games, but when Google expanded it, that name was no longer true.
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As the Android Market grew with music, e-books and movies, Google turned it into ‘Google Play’. Since some of the content was not exclusive to Android, it made no sense to put it in the “Android Market”. Now all of Google’s digital content can be found under the Google Play umbrella.
So what is all this content? As mentioned before, apps and games are the most important things people get from the Play Store. The other categories are ‘Movies and TV’ and ‘Books’. There used to be music in the Play Store, but that changed with the introduction of YouTube Music.
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The easy way to think of the Play Store is that it’s the place to download and buy everything digital from Google.
What is the Google Store?
While the Play Store is for digital content, the Google Store is the company’s online market for physical products. That includes Pixel phones, Chromebooks, Chromecasts, Nest devices, and some Google partner products.
Until 2015, Google’s few physical products could be purchased from the Play Store through the Devices tab. As the company focused more on building its ‘Made by Google’ devices, it shifted its physical products to the dedicated Google Store. There is still a ‘Devices’ tab on the Play Store website, but it now links to the Google Store.
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Google products can be purchased from a number of retailers, including Best Buy and Amazon. However, the Google Store sometimes has more options and discounts. You can also get Google customer support if you go through the Google Store, which is likely to replace a broken device.
An equivalent of the Google Store would be the Apple Store. It is a store owned by the company that makes the products being sold. In either case, there are some products from partners, but the majority of the items belong to the store owner.
Unlike the Apple Store, the Google Store is only an online market. There are no ‘physical’ Google Stores in the real world. You may find specific Google sections in stores like Best Buy, but that’s it.
The only exception to the “physical products” rule in the Google Store is subscriptions. You can buy subscriptions to services such as Google One, Stadia Pro and YouTube Premium. These are subscriptions that usually belong to physical products.
The difference between the Google Play Store and the Google Store is actually very simple. The Play Store is for digital content, while the Google Store is for physical products.
Google’s marketplace started with the Android Market, evolved into the Play Store, and eventually split up with the Google Store. If you’re looking to buy something in the Google ecosystem, these are your top two destinations.