The company says it is consolidating different sites and apps under the new name so that you can "experience a simpler way to manage your entertainment." Up to now, Google offered music files at Google Music, books at the Google eBookstore, apps at the Android Market and so forth - and competitors like Apple and Amazon, with one-stop shopping, did it better.
All of Google Play's offerings will be kept on the so-called cloud - stored online instead of inside your smartphone, tablet or computer - so that you can have access to them regardless of the device you're using at the moment. If you've used Apple's iCloud, this will sound very familiar.
"All your music, movies, books and apps are stored online, always available to you, and you never have to worry about losing them or moving them again," said Jamie Rosenberg, Google's director of Digital Content, on Google's official blog.
Google, which became one of technology's great success stories as a search engine, is trying to branch out the way major competitors have. Ninety-six percent of its revenue, it concedes, comes from online advertising (such as the items that appear in colored boxes when you do a search). Apple, by comparison, sells both hardware (iPads, iPhones, computers) and content to play on them through its iTunes store. Amazon started as an online bookstore but now sells Kindle e-readers and Kindle Fire tablets so users can play what they download from Amazon.com.
Android Market has succeeded as a place to find apps for phones and tablets that run Google's Android operating system - the single most popular in the U.S. By consolidating under one virtual roof, it hopes more people will come to it for entertainment as well.
"We can't wait for you to try Google Play," said Rosenberg.