After Google Play Books, Google Play Movies is the latest to enter the Indian terrain. The Google Movies service takes mobile entertainment experience a notch higher, allowing movie buffs to rent or buy movies on the go. Now, this isn't something new, as we already have iTunes store and a couple of other movie apps and services such as BigFlix that allow renting and buying movies. Google simply adds to the slowly yet steadily growing Indian mobile entertainment space. With some competition already available in the market, let’s see how Google Movies fares.
Google Movies is a part of the Play Store experience. Once you are in Google Play, the Movies option will be right there along with Android apps, Books and so on. It has the typical interface just like the Android apps or Books. However, Movies is relatively new and you will not see the neatly organised categories like you have in the Android apps section. In fact, there are just five categories, namely, Action & Adventure, Animation, Comedy, Drama and Family.
Available to rent and/or buy in SD and HD quality
The interface is basic and simple (limited to the five categories, sections showing top selling movies, featured movies and so on), but doesn't bring even a smidgen of convenience. A lot of movies have been placed in multiple categories; in fact, some even show up in wrong categories. If you plan to search for movies based on their genre, release year, price, resolution (SD or HD) or some other factor, you will be surprised to see Google has made no such provision. The service completely lacks any means to filter down the search and one will have no choice but to sift through movies haphazardly placed in categories. It’s really disappointing to see the biggest search engine being neglectful in letting users search for the movies of their choice.
Unlike iTunes, it doesn't clearly mention whether the movie is in HD or SD option, unless you click on the price. Once you click on the price, it will show the pricing for renting and buying the movies in SD or HD resolution. We think simple isn't always convenient, and the Google Movies user interface seems to be one such example.
To begin with, just like iTunes or BIGFlix, Google Movies lets you rent or buy movies. The not-so-long list is dominated by English movies, with just a handful of Bollywood flicks. But as we said earlier, there is no filter, which will display only the list of Hindi movies; everything is scrambled within the five categories. Yes, you will find categories like Top selling and New Releases, but they aren't of much use. The movies are available at a starting price of Rs 50, and go as high as Rs 650. Moreover, every movie doesn't come with options to buy as well as rent. For instance, several fairly newer movies like Dictator and Dr. Seuss' The Lorax, can only be bought and not rented. On the other hand, there are some other movies that you can rent but not purchase.
Movies on smartphone and tablet
Talking about the pricing, the rental pricing for movies appears to be similar to the iTunes store. However, the buying cost for certain HD movies varies slightly. These movies can be purchased in standard definition (SD) or high definition (HD) quality (depending upon the availability). Obviously, you will have to pay more for HD quality. For instance, you can rent Premium Rush for Rs 120 in SD and Rs 150 in HD. The same movies, you can purchase for Rs 190 in SD and Rs 490 in HD quality. The Movies service of Google for India has a limited number of movies. Google has added some details of each movie, like its story plot or synopsis, release year, run time and more.
It also comes with an offline mode feature, so you can download the movie onto your Android device from the Google Play Movies app and watch it without an Internet connection. You can watch it on the web, or Android phone or tablet, as long as you sign in with the same Google account. However, you will have to download or pin it again on that device, which is time consuming and may cost you depending on your data charges. You can even watch the downloaded movie on your HDTV using a micro-HDMI to HDMI cable or an MHL adapter and HDMI cable, depending on your device.
On renting a movie for Rs 120, we had 30 days as rental period, which means we could watch the movie anytime within the next 30 days. This doesn't mean you can watch the movie over and over again for a period of 30 days. It comes with an active rental period of 48 hours, which means once you start watching or downloading the movie, you have access to the movie for the next 48 hours only. There is a pop up that will warn you about the 48 hours active rental period as soon as you start watching the movie. The price for renting the movie comes across as slightly expensive. Moreover, you may have to pay additional charges for streaming it, depending on your data charges.
My Movies shows your rentals
There was a lot of stutter while streaming the movie, and downloading a 115 minute movie took a couple of hours even over Wi-Fi. The SD quality movie was quite mediocre. It would be decent for a feature phone or a phone with a lower resolution, but is definitely not a good option for a high-end display. The service does not mention the exact resolution, and the standard resolution could vary depending on the availability. Under HD resolution content, one will find movies in 1280 x 720 pixels (720p) or 1920 x 1080 pixels (1080p). Once you buy a movie, it will be linked to your account (stored in the cloud) and can be accessed via "My Movies" on your Android devices or web. However, you cannot watch it simultaneously on two devices.
In a nutshell, Google Movies is a very handy service (especially as Android smartphones are available for almost every budget segment) but with a huge room for improvement. Lack of search filters and inconsistent categorising may leave you annoyed and frustrated. On the other hand, features such as offline viewing, HD content and support for multiple Android devices and web will not disappoint you. The pricing also has some discrepancies, as we found some titles to be slightly expensive when it comes to rentals. The service is relatively new, so we hope Google wears its tweaking gloves for some interface enhancements and also adds more movie options.