If you own an iPhone or iPad, you might be of the mistaken belief that the only way to get streaming video entertainment is through iTunes. Not so. Proud and happy iOS device owners like yourself can partake of the entertainment available via other channels, such as Google Play, as traitorous an idea as that might seem to some Cupertino devotees. This isn’t to say that watching Google Play movies on iOS is free of its quirks. It has its fair share of them. But it also has its perks. Here’s the full intel on how to watch Google Play on your iPhone and iPad.
To get started, you’re going to want to download the free Google Play Movies and TV app from iTunes. The size of the app is just over 14 megabytes and takes less than a minute to download. Completion of installation requires you to log in to your Google account, so if you don’t have one already you’ll need to take this extra step.
Once you’re all dialed in and have the app installed, the very first thing you’ll notice about Google Play on iPhone or iPad or is the curious inability to search, buy or rent titles, revealing the big catch with Google Play Movies and TV. The only content you can view (at least on your iOS device) are titles you’ve previously purchased through Play. There’s no ability to browse titles, read reviews, watch trailers, or anything else.
What this means is that if you want to buy or rent Google Play titles from your iPad or iPhone, you’re going to have to launch a browser, Safari or Google Chrome will do fine, and navigate to www.play.google.com. From there, sign in to your Google account and pinch/zoom/scroll your way through the available titles. You can also do the same from a computer or an Android mobile device.
Apparently, these painful workarounds keep Google from having to pay Apple a share of revenue. If you’re used to the immersive one-stop iTunes experience, you’re probably going to be sorely disappointed with Google Play Movies & TV and it could be the deal-killer that sends you back to the Applesphere with your head down and your tail between your legs. But that aside, there is one reason why you may decide it’s worth your while to abide the inconvenience: the issue of cost.
On average, movie titles are cheaper on Google Play than they are on iTunes. One example of this is Dumb and Dumber To, which will run you $14.99 to purchase on iTunes but only $12.99 on Google Play (these are HD prices). Rental costs for the aforementioned Jim Carrey/Jeff Daniels not-so-classic are the same on either platform, with the HD version running $5.99 and the SD version going for $4.99 – but the rental period with Google Play is longer: 48 hours. iTunes only gives you 24 hours. That said, high-def purists should take note that HD playback isn’t available on iOS devices for movies purchased or rented on Google Play, essentially rendering the cost difference a moot point.
Stylistically and aesthetically, there are no glaring differences between the platforms. Both allow you to download titles to view them offline, and both offer easy navigation that lets you scroll and tap your way through your virtual library of purchased content. The argument against relying solely on iTunes rests with the fact you’re stuck watching on iOS devices if you want to be mobile – whereas Google Play gives you the freedom to start watching a movie on your iPad, continue it on your iPhone, and finish it up on your Android tablet.
The biggest issue with Android/iOS streaming video compatibility is that it isn’t a two-way street. You can watch Google Play on iPhone, iPad or any other device. While you can watch iTunes content on a PC or laptop, there’s no place in the equation for Android devices. If you’re wholly rooted in the iOS world, it makes little sense to cross the road to access Play’s available menu of content regularly. That said, Google and others have offered free Google titles in the past, including The Hunger Games, X-Men, and Gravity. There’s no need for Apple users to shut themselves out from a good deal.