Google TV takes a new step in its acquisition of Google Play Movies. The app is deployment to iOS on Wednesday, where this is a in-place upgrade for Google Play Movies & TV. As announced in March, Play Movies & TV also lost its place in the Play Store on Android this week, where it was a top-level tab. Not much remains of Play Movies & TV or Google’s original ambitions for the Play brand.
We can first talk about the novelty: the Google TV application is available on iOS. On Android, the app is part of a media store and content aggregation guide. You may have noticed that there are a lot of streaming services. Google TV is like a modern TV guide, letting you know which shows are playing on which apps, and that feature is making the leap to iOS. Google says iOS users can “take your library with you,” but only for “movies and shows you’ve already rented or purchased with your Google Account.” So it seems that the store part of Google TV is not up to par. If you need to run Android TV or Google TV operating systems on your TV, you can also use your iOS device as a remote control.
Google too finally went ahead with its plan to remove video purchases from the Play Store this week, making Google TV (well, and YouTube, I guess) the primary way to buy video content from Google on Android. Google Play was originally envisioned as a global media empire, spanning Google Play Music, Google Play Magazines/Newsstand, Google Play Movies & TV, and Google Play Books, all sold in the Google Play Store. The Play Store comes as the default app store on all 3 billion Android devices worldwide (“Android” is a trademark of Google and does not include forks). Doubling up Google’s busy app store with a host of media content stores seemed (and still seems) like a solid strategy.
However, Google can’t stop there and has turned what’s left of these media stores into standalone properties. Newsstands/magazines have been closed in favor of Google News in 2018. Google Music was tragically closed for YouTube Music in 2020. Play Movies has been out since Google TV launched in 2020, and now the Play Store only sells the clunky combination of apps and books.
Play Movies & TV isn’t as dead as other Google Play brands. Contrary to its name, Google TV also handles movie-related tasks on some platforms just like YouTube, and Play Movies still exists for some platforms and countries. Google has a support page detailing its line of definitely non-dysfunctional video apps, showing which of its three competing brands are available on specific platforms. The phones apparently still have YouTube, Play Movies & TV and Google TV, depending on your country. On the web, you can always choose from google play or Youtube.
Smart TVs are super complicated: on third-party platforms like Roku, you have to use the YouTube app. Google does not provide a Google TV app for Android TV; instead, you’ll still need to use the Play Movies & TV app. Google has a new fork of Android TV, also called “Google TV” (this is a full operating system), which integrates Google TV the service in the operating system. This sort of explains why Android TV doesn’t have a Google TV app.
Replacing everything unilaterally with Google’s most powerful media content brand, YouTube, would make the most sense, but rights negotiations would complicate that. Google Play Movies & TV offers shopping in 117 countries, while YouTube only has agreements to offer shopping in 46 countries. There is also already a service called “YouTube TV”, but it is a replacement for cable TV.
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