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Google Play replaces Android Market, on computers and phones

Google Play is the new name for the Android Market, encompassing books, movies, music and games on computers as well as phones.

The Android Market is dead -- long live Google Play. In a surprise move, the big G has renamed its app store to encompass books, movies and music, on computers as well as smart phones and tablets.

Google Play has a streamlined new look to make it easier to wade through the vast range of apps in the Android Market. It's available from today on phones rocking Android 2.2 and above.

The Music, Videos and Books apps will change to Play Music, Play Movies and Play Books. Head to the current Market to update your apps, and look out for the new 'play button' icon instead of the famous Android.

Buy an ebook, film or song on one device, and you can read, watch or listen to it on any other device. That's similar to iTunes Cloud, which lets you download apps and media to your different Apple devices.

As well as the Android smart phones and tablets we're used to using to shop in the Android Market, Google Play works on computers, laptops and Chromebooks. That echoes the blurring of desktop and mobile in iTunes -- which was a desktop store before it went mobile on the iPhone and iPad -- and Microsoft's Windows 8, which has an app store for apps that can work on Windows 8 computers and tablets, and Windows Phone smart phones.

This took me by surprise, but it's a smart move. As enormously popular as Android phones are, Google is still a word that's far more recognisable to ordinary folk. You and I, as tech-savvy phone fans, may grasp the concept of Android, but that doesn't mean our friends, family and other muggles do. Mobile phones are as mainstream as it gets these days, so anything Google can do to brand its offerings as simple and unified and understandable, in words of one syllable, is going to help its cause.

The timing is also perfect: apparently Apple is planning a little get-together today, or something. Sweet revenge for Apple's announcement of the iPad 3 event the moment that Googleboss Eric Schmidt began his MWC keynote speech last week, perhaps?

I do have one concern though. Is the multicoloured Play logo the beginning of the end for Droidy, our favourite mascot in the whole tech world?

What do you think of Google Play? Was the Android Market fine as it was, or is this a big step into more mainstream acceptance for Google? Tell me your thoughts in the comments or on our Facebook page.