The Google play store is a collection of Apps,books,videos and music etc which you can download and install on your android tablet/device.
To access the play store you will need the Google a google account.
Google accounts are free and can be used to access many Google services like Gmail, Youtube, and more importantly the Google Play Apps store.
Apps submitted to the Google App store by developers are scanned for malware and viruses.
They are also manually screened and approved before they become available to download from the store.
Therefore limiting your App downloads to the Google play store is probably the best way of staying secure.
Accessing The Play Store from Your Tablet
On tablets and smart phones you will access the Google play store using the Play store App.
The Google play store App is usually a pre-installed/built in App, and it is a good idea to make sure that your device has it pre-installed before you buy it.
Device manufacturers need a licence from Google before they are allowed to pre-install the Google Play store App, and other Google Apps (e.g. Gmail) on their devices.
There is no real setup required before you access the Play store for the first time, provided you have already setup a Google account on the device.
Locate the play store App and click the Google play icon to connect to the store.
The store is actually a website and opens with a search bar at the top and a collection of promoted Apps,Music videos etc underneath.
In the search bar you will see a menu icon. If you press this icon link an options menu appears on the left side of the page.
You can use this options menu to browse Apps,music,movies etc but also you will find links to
- Manage your Apps
- Manage your play store settings
- Manage your Google Play store Account
Installing New Apps
To Locate an App You can browse the App store section of the store but the easiest method is to do a search.
Once you have located your App click on the icon and you should get an install prompt.
You will get a permission screen telling you what permissions the App needs to work. You need to accept them or the App will not install.
When you click Accept the App will download and install. You see a download progress indicator and a final screen once downloaded.
The final screen for this App lets me open the App or uninstall it.
If you return to the All Apps screen on your tablet you will see the App will have created an icon in the Apps folder.
From Google Play store you can uninstall and update any or all of the Apps installed on your device.
By default automatic updates for Apps is enabled which should mean that Apps get updated automatically.
However you will probably find some Apps that need updating manually. (not sure why)
If you go to the Apps section you see two tabs (Installed and All Apps).
The installed Apps are those that are current installed on the device you are using, and the All Apps contains all of the Apps you have downloaded but may have uninstalled.
In the screen shot above you can see the status of the App as update which means that it needs updating. If the status is install then it is up to date.
You can also see from the screen shot that you can update the Apps individually or all at once using the Update All option
Manage Your Play Store Settings and Restricting Access
If you press on the Settings link you can manage updates,update notifications and set restrictions.
You should see that auto updates and notifications are enabled by default but you may want to disable this if you are concerned about network usage.
The more important settings are further below, and they are the parental controls and access control.
Parental controls let you restrict access to various types of content as shown in the screen shot below:
Parental controls are Off by default.See the Google support article for more details on parental controls.
Note: if you have purchased the device for your kids then you can get more control by installing a parental control App.
Authentication restrictions let you prevent unauthorized users from purchasing books,apps etc from the play store.
It is off by default and it is a good idea to turn it on.
Note: Restrictions apply to the particular Google account and device.
Installing Apps From Other Stores
There are many other App stores like Amazon that are available for obtaining android Apps.
Because of the security risks involved in installing Apps from unknown sources you should always use an App Store that you trust.
The Google play store App is an application that lets you browse the Google Play store and download, install and Update Apps.
Amazon provides a similar App for accessing the Amazon App store.
The problem is you can’t get the Amazon Store App from the Google App store, and so you need to install in manually using the apk files. See installing Amazon App store App on Android.
An Apk file is the android equivalent of a .exe file on windows. If you click on an apk file it installs an application.
If you want to use other App stores then you will normally download the apk files and then do a manual install.
Accessing The Play Store from Your PC.
You can login to the play store using a web browser on your PC and review your play store settings.
The main things you can do here is
- Add and remove payment options and review past purchases.
- View all devices associated with that Google Account
- Access to the Android device Manager
To view a list of associated devices go to the settings icon in the top right corner and press Settings from the drop down list.
If you click on settings you can see all registered devices, and when they last accessed the store using the current Google account. (click image to enlarge)
You can hide them from the device manager using the visibility check box.
To access the android device manager go to the settings icon in the top right corner and press android device manager from the drop down list.
Note: to use the Android device manager with a device it must be enabled on the device. See setup device manager.
Paying For Apps,Books and Movies
Google support a variety of payment options from credit/debit cards to gift cards.
To change your payment options go to account settings.
Click on add a new payment method to change.
If you are worried about security and want more control over your purchases then you might want to look at using gift cards to yourself.
You can purchase these online and at many stores,supermarkets etc.
Use the redeem option from the menu to use the gift card.
Common Questions and Answers
Q– Is it safe to download free android apps from sites other than play store?
A- No it isn’t as safe but if you use a well know store like Amazon then you should be OK. If you need to download and install an APK file then you should be very careful.
Q- Do I need to register a payment method to use the Google Play store to download free Apps?
Q- I’ve deleted the Google Play store App by mistake can I re-install it?
A- Yes you will need to get the .apk file and install it manually. There is a download file available from android police here.
Q- Can I access the play store from my PC?
A- Yes and I find this is the easiest way of managing settings but you can’t install Apps this way.
Q- I have multiple Google accounts on my tablet do I need to set the access restrictions for each account?
Related Articles and Resources:
- Sharing your tablet
- Installing and Managing Apps
- Useful Apps for Android
- Installing the Amazon App store on Android