Google is an entity that hardly needs any introduction. More than a mere website, Google is all but an institution of 21st-century life. Who does not frequent one of Google’s sites or apps on a daily basis? Whether you are seeking out the answer to some piece of trivia that won’t let you rest until you learn the answer, or you are checking your Gmail account, or you are collaborating for work on Google Drive … there is no avoiding one of the most pervasive tech companies in the world.
What facets of our lives have Google not put their stamp on yet? They have a hand in smartphones, music, movies, social media, TV, email, work … the list goes on and on. I mean, websites go out of their way to study the Google algorithm and then shape their content to it so as to raise the ranks of Google’s search results. This is what is referred to as Search Engine Optimization (SEO), perhaps you’ve heard the term before, and it basically amounts to people changing their language, bending it to the will of Google. If that isn’t power, what is?
This is not a complaint, far from it … Google has made my life so much easier. I say all this merely to demonstrate the myriad ways in which Google has had an impact on our daily lives. So, of course, this company that has affected every aspect of our lives would also offer one of the most widely used premium movie and TV streaming apps on the market. Google Play is a behemoth of a marketplace in and of itself, and the specific branch of Google Play that is dedicated to movie and TV streaming is yet another high-quality, top-notch, beloved arm of the machine.
How, though, does the Google Play Movie and TV app truly stack up against the competition? Sure, Google is known for creating premium products in general, but does Google Play Movie, and TV really hold a candle to, say, Netflix or Amazon Prime Video? Well, first off, it is important to note that if you are looking for a premium streaming app that offers a library of titles for you to stream on-demand, you are barking up the wrong tree.
Google Play Movie and TV functions a little bit differently from the majority of the other premium streaming apps. The only movies and shows that you can watch on Google Play Movie and TV are those that you rent or buy. So, unfortunately, you cannot simply pay a certain amount of money each month in order to automatically have access to hundreds of movies and shows the way that you can with Hulu or Disney Plus.
That is, in my opinion, the biggest downside of this app. But, then again, maybe that is more your style. Maybe you just want to watch a certain movie and don’t mind paying out of pocket each time. It certainly does open up your options … Google Play Movies and TV does have one of the largest libraries of any streaming service out there.
But in terms of all of the other components that you have to take into account when evaluating a premium streaming app, Google Play Movies and TV definitely seems to tick every box. But we will elaborate more on each facet in a moment. For now, let’s talk a little bit about how Google Play Movies and TV was born, grew, and expanded into one of the best streaming services out there.
Google Movies originally launched in May of 2011. It was not rebranded under the Google Play umbrella until March 2012. Immediately made available in the United States, Google Play Movies and TV had a somewhat more gradual roll out internationally than a lot of other streaming apps tend to have. They began their expansion into Korea in September 2012, growing into Australia, Canada, France, the United Kingdom, and Spain in October of the same year. The rollout continued in this fashion, growing a few countries at a time each month.
I rather enjoy the way that Google Play Movies and TV is designed. It has a nice sleek and professional look to it. Equal parts minimalistic and flashy. That may sound paradoxical, but somehow this app has pulled it off. What I mean is that the design of the app itself is very sparse, with very clean lines – and overall classy look – but it is still jampacked with content … and not in a way that feels cluttered or overwhelming (the way that many other similar apps can feel when they have so much content to offer).
The app’s discover mode is helpful, smoothly allowing you to browse titles by genre. Simply click on your genre of choice from a scrollable selection of tags at the top. Then just scroll to your heat’s content. Once you find a title that catches your eye, just click on it and check out the title’s credit info, view a trailer, and view rental and purchase options. You can also “like” or “dislike” movies and shows, adding them to playlists, which is a very convenient and useful feature. This is also how Google Play Movies and TV will know what to recommend to you in the future.
All premium streaming apps should take notes on Google Play Movie and TV’s user-friendliness, sleek and professional design, and useful features that they offer. In terms of usability, this is precisely what a streaming app should look like.
Pretty much any movie or TV show can be found on Google Play Movies and TV. Well, so long as the movie or show you are looking for is at least somewhat well known. I will say that, as a big fan of indie films, so long as I have been using the Google Play Movies and TV app, I have never had an issue with not being able to find a specific title. Of course, Google will have to have the rights to the movie or show in order to make it available, but even if this app does not happen to have a movie or show that you are looking for, it will point you toward a site or streaming service that does.
According to Google, the majority of content on this app is available to stream in HD. And, as of December 2016, many of them can be viewed in 4K Ultra HD.
Google Play Movies and TV is available on just about every device. Obviously, you can use it on any Android device, but it is available on Apple devices as well. You can also access Google Play Movies and TV on most smart TVs, including Amazon Fire, Roku, and Chromecast devices. Unfortunately, though, I do not believe that Google Play Movies and TV is currently available on gaming consoles like Xbox or PlayStation.
Pricing and Plans
Well, as I touched on earlier, Google Play Movies and TV does not have a monthly subscription option. This is a bit of a bittersweet fact for many. Personally, I would rather pay a certain amount to Google per month in order to have a baseline library of movies and shows that I could stream at my convenience. However, Google Play Movies and TV do not have such a feature.
Instead, when you download the Google Play Movies and TV app, you won’t have to immediately pay a cent. You can begin browsing their library of thousands of titles for free. Once you find something that you want to watch, though, you will have to pay to stream it. Some titles can be rented or purchased; others can only be rented; others still can only be bought outright. Purchases, of course, can be downloaded to your device and viewed offline.
Suggestions that I have for Google Play Movies and TV App
I would like to see a version of Google Play Movies and TV that offers a baseline streaming service. Ideally, they could offer a sizeable library of movies and shows that are available without the individual rental or purchase price. I would not mind at all paying a certain amount per month for something more like a Prime Video service, where I can rent or buy titles as well as stream select movies and shows on-demand.