Google Play Movies & TV is an Android app that operates as a window into the Google Play store in order to let you rent movies, and then allows you to stream or download the same files via a web page, Android phone or Android tablet, as well as letting you view your videos from other sources on the same devices. See also: Best Android Apps.
Google Play Movies & TV is as important to Google as the Nexus 7 itself. The Nexus is, as we know, a loss leader from Google aimed at generating more revenue via the Google Play app and media store. It's why Google is giving away £15 of credit with each Nexus 7 purchase, and why the product itself costs less than the sum of its parts.
Google Play Movies & TV is an app for compatible Android 2.2+ phones and 3.2+ tablets. It is a video player - you can play your own video files through the app. More importantly, alongside Google Play Music it is Google's answer to iTunes, in that it purports to be a consumer-friendly one-stop shop for movies and TV.
Google Play is different, however. This app is principally a player for movies you rent and a means of helping you to find new movies to watch. The movies themselves can be found on Google Play, and then downloaded to or streamed over Google Play Movies & TV.
Using Google Play Movies & TV
Opening up the Google Play Movies & TV app on our Nexus 7, we find two tabs at the top: 'Movies' and 'Personal Videos'. US users will find a third tab for 'TV Shows' but here in the UK we are not so blessed, for licensing reasons. The Personal Videos section displays videos you create using your Android smartphone or tablet, as well as any videos that you copy over to your device via a USB cable. This is a more likely route for Nexus 7 users, as its camera is a basic webcam for use in video calling. Unfortnately, it's by no means the most versatile video player for Android. You'll need another third-party app in order to play QuickTime movies, for instance.
More fun can be found under the Movies tab. Here are self-explanatory sections entitled My Rentals and My Movies. These display all of your recent Google Play movie rentals, as well as any films you have purchased from the Google Play store (not currently possible for UK users).
Each movie entry includes artwork and information, as well as whether you have downloaded it and how long you have left in order to watch it. Movie rentals cost from £1.49 to £3.49 in standard def, going up to around £4.49 for new Hollywood movies in HD. There are lots of movies in the Google Play store, including recent Hollywood releases and a good number of classics. Once you've rented a movie you can view it on any device - Android phone or tablet, or even at play.google.com/movies on any web-connected PC, laptop or Mac. Watching online is straightforward - sing in to your Google account and you can watch just as you would on your Android device.
We tried streaming 'Transformers: Dark of the Moon' on our Nexus 7 over Wi-fi and found the quality perfectly adequate on the 7in tablet's display. Our office's flakey Wi-fi was a problem, however, and playback was occasionally a little jerky. You can also stream over 3G, so truly mobile movie watching is possible, although the signal would have to be robust.
We were more successful when we downloaded 'TT: Closer to the Edge', a movie that then played seamlessly. The rental purchase system is simple, too: you are already logged in to a Google account with either credit or a credit card attached, so you simply hit rent and the movie is yours. We'd recommend the download options for the reasons outlined above. It took around 25 minutes to pull down 'TT' to our Nexus.
The rental system could be confusing to a stupid person. You have to watch rented movies within 30 days of making a purchase. Once you start watching you have 48 hours to finish watching the film - and you can watch the film multiple times throughout that period.