How to Browse the Google Play Store on Your Samsung Galaxy Tablet

By Dan Gookin

The place to find more stuff for your Samsung Galaxy Tab is the digital marketplace known as the Google Play Store. You can obtain music, books, movies, TV shows, and, most importantly, apps. A lot of the stuff that’s available is free. Some of it costs money, but not as much as you would expect. Bottom line: The Google Play Store is the place to go when you need to expand upon your Tab’s capabilities.

Google Play may sound like a place to go for buying nerdy children’s outerwear, but it’s really an online bazaar where you pick up new goodies for your tablet: apps, games, music, magazines, movies, TV shows, and books. You can browse, you can get free stuff, or you can pay. It all happens at the Play Store.

  • Though it’s called Google Play, the app is titled Play Store. These terms are used interchangeably.
  • You obtain items from Google Play by downloading them from the Internet to your tablet. This file transfer works best at top speeds; therefore:

If you have an LTE Tab, I highly recommend that you connect it to a Wi-Fi network if you plan to obtain apps, books, or movies at Google Play. Wi-Fi not only gives you speed but also helps you avoid data surcharges.

  • The Play Store app is frequently updated.

How to Browse Google Play Store

To access Google Play, open the Play Store app. A launcher icon for the Play Store app might also be available on the Home screen; otherwise, look on the Apps screen.

After opening the Play Store app, you see the main screen, similar to the one shown. If not, tap the Left Arrow icon in the upper left corner of the screen until you see the main screen. Or, if you see the Side Menu icon (shown in the margin), tap it and choose Home from the navigation drawer.

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Google Play.

To browse, tap a category atop the screen. Available categories include apps, games, movies, TV shows, music, books, and magazines. For example, to browse for an app, you choose the Home category and then Top Charts to see what’s hot. Further categories, such as Top Free Apps, help you refine your search.

When you have an idea of what you want, such as an app’s name or even what it does, searching works fastest: Touch the Search (magnifying glass) icon at the top of the Play Store screen. Type all or part of the app’s name or perhaps a description.

To see more information about an item, touch it to view a detailed description, screen shots, a video preview, comments, plus links to similar items, as shown in Figure 16-2.

  • The first time you enter Google Play, or immediately after an upgrade, you have to accept the terms of service; tap the ACCEPT button.
  • You can be assured that all apps that appear in Google Play can be used with your Galaxy Tab. There’s no way to download or buy something that’s incompatible.
  • Pay attention to an app’s ratings. Ratings are added by people who use the apps — people like you and me. Having more stars is better. You can see additional information, including individual user reviews, by selecting the app.
  • Another good indicator of an app’s success is how many times it’s been downloaded. Some apps have been downloaded 100 million times. That’s a good sign.

In the following figure, the app’s description (on the right) shows the INSTALL button. Other buttons that may appear on an app’s description screen include OPEN, UPDATE, and UNINSTALL. The OPEN button opens an app that’s already installed on the tablet; the UPDATE button updates an already installed app; and the UNINSTALL button removes an installed app.

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Hunting down an app.

How to download items from Google Play Store

After you locate something you want from Google Play, the next step is to download it; the app, music, book, or movie is copied from Google Play on the Internet to your Galactic tablet. Apps are installed immediately. Books, music, and movies become available at once.

Good news: Most apps are available for free. Electronic versions of classic books are free. Occasionally, free movies and music are offered. Even when you pay for something, the cost isn’t outrageous. The goal is to build your Tab’s media library.

I recommend that you download a free app or eBook first, to familiarize yourself with the process. Then try your hand at a paid app.

Free or not, the process of obtaining an app works pretty much the same. Follow these steps:

  1. Ensure that the Tab is connected to the Internet on a Wi-Fi network.
    You want to avoid mobile data surcharges for an LTE Tab.
  2. Open the Play Store app.
  3. Find the item you want and open its description.
    The description screen looks similar to the one shown on the right side in the figure, even for eBooks, music, and movies.
  4. Tap the button to obtain the item.
    A free app features an INSTALL button. A free eBook features an EBOOK FREE button. For a free movie or TV show or music, look for a FREE button. You might also see a FREE SAMPLE or FREE TRIAL button for some items. In that case, tap the button to view or listen to a free sample of the media.
    Paid items feature a button that shows the price. For movies and TV shows, you may see a Rent or Purchase button.
  5. Tap the Accept button, if prompted.
    The Accept button appears on an access card. It describes which device features the app uses. The list isn’t a warning, just a summary. Even so, you’re prompted later as the app runs and it requests permission to access various items.
  6. For a paid item, tap the Buy button.
  7. Wait for the item to download or to become available.
    Media items are available instantly. Apps are downloaded and installed, which may take some time. Feel free to do something else while the app downloads. Installation takes place automatically.
  8. Tap the OPEN, PLAY, LISTEN, READ, or similar button to run the app, watch a video, listen to music, or read a book, respectively.

Media arrives quickly to your Tab because it’s not actually copied to the device. Instead, the item is streamed, or made available only when you request it. This process works as long as an Internet connection is available.

  • The Play Store app prompts you for payment information if you haven’t yet supplied it. This prompt appears even for free items, in which case you can skip the prompt: Tap the SKIP button. You can always supply payment information the first time you actually buy something.

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  • If you chose to do something else while an app downloads, refer to the status bar to check for the Successfully Installed notification. Choose that notification to open the recently obtained app.
  • Apps you download are added to the Apps drawer, made available like any other app on your phone or tablet. Additionally, you may find the app on the Home screen.
  • Media you’ve obtained from Google Play is accessed from a specific app: Play Music for music, Play Books for books, and Play Movies & TV for video.
  • After obtaining an item from Google Play, you receive a Gmail message confirming your purchase, paid or free.
  • Google Play doesn’t currently offer refunds on purchased media, which includes music, books, and movies.

Keep an eye out for special offers from Google Play. These offer a great way to pick up some free songs, movies, and books.

How to purchase something from Google Play Store

When you purchase something at Google Play, you tap the Buy button. A card appears, listing available payment methods, similar to what’s shown here.

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Google Play’s Buy card.

In the figure, the app cost $6.99. The chosen payment method is a VISA card, though if you tap this item, you see more options for making the purchase. The selected payment method is used automatically after the Buy button is tapped. Here’s how that operation works:

  1. Tap the BUY button.
    For security, you’re prompted to type your Google password.
  2. Type your Google password.

    I strongly recommend that you do not choose the option Never Ask Me Again. You want to be prompted every time for your password.

  3. Tap the Confirm button.
  4. Type the credit card’s security code.
    This is the CVC code, found on the back of the card.
  5. Tap the VERIFY button.
    The app is downloaded or the media made available to your phone or tablet.

To select another payment method, choose Payment Methods and select another credit or debit card or use your Google Play balance. After another payment method is selected, continue with Step 1 in this section.

  • Information about any potential refund is provided in the Gmail message you receive after the purchase. Review the message for details.
  • Be quick on that refund: For a purchased app, you have only two hours to get your money back. You know when the time limit is up, because the REFUND button on the app’s description screen changes to UNINSTALL.
  • The credit or debit cards listed in Google Play are those you’ve used before. Don’t worry: Your information is safe.
  • All music sales are final. Don’t blame me; I’m just writing down Google’s current policy for music purchases.

How to rent or purchase videos

When it comes to movies and TV shows available at the Google Play Store, you have two options: Rent or purchase.

When you desire to rent a video, the rental is available to view for the next 30 days. Once you start watching, however, you have only 24 hours to finish — you can also watch the video over and over again during that time span.

Purchasing a video is more expensive than renting it, but you can view the movie or TV show at any time, on any Android device. You can also download the movie so that you can watch it even when an Internet connection isn’t available, as described in the later section “Keeping stuff on the device.”

One choice you must make when buying a movie is whether to purchase the SD or HD version. The SD version is cheaper and occupies less storage space (if you choose to download the movie). The HD version is more expensive, but it plays at high-definition only on certain output devices. Obviously, when watching on your Tab only, the SD option is preferred.

Google Play Tricks

You may have no desire to be a Google Play expert. Just get the app you want, grouse over having to pay 99 cents for that must-have game or $4.99 to rent the latest blockbuster, and get on with your life. When you’re ready to get more from the Play Store, peruse Google Play Store Tricks for Your Samsung Galaxy Tab S.