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Direct movie rentals and e-books for Android Market; Shopper to get Google+ support?

by Kristen Nicole

The Android Market gets more competitive with the iTunes App Store, adding movie rentals and e-books, as well as an updated interface for users. The new features are limited to U.S. users for now, with movie rentals starting at $1.99. You can download movies for offline viewing. E-books are also linked to your account, with some 3 million titles to choose from. Both movies and books are available across all supported devices, so you can access your personal cloud from any connected computer, phone or tablet.

If you’re in the Android Market, you’ll find new Movies and Books tabs gracing the top navigation bar. It makes for easy access, and movies and titles are separated by category for filtered browsing. But those aren’t the only changes made to the Android Market, as Google has created a more streamlined approach for interacting with the home screen.

"We've created more space to feature some of the most interesting content of the week on the home page," Google notes on its blog. "We've added more top charts, with newer, more relevant items, and we've made it easy to swipe through these charts as you browse the store. We've also introduced new collections of great content, like staff picks and Editors' Choice apps."

App markets central to personal cloud

This is an important update for the Android Market, making it even more centered around personal cloud content, and modified for easier searches. In theory, this should help developers with app discovery, and provide new marketing outlets as well. And with the Apple iCloud getting ready to hit the market, Google’s been scrambling to release unifying features across its apps, operating system and supporting devices. Google’s recent deals with studios and publishers was just the beginning, and we’re sure to see more media integration as the consumer market shifts to personal cloud storage and access.

Google Shopper update, possible Google+ integration

To this end, Google’s also pouring resources into Google+, the social stream that spans nearly every access point Google has. Google Shopper may be the latest App to get Google+ integration, with VP of Google Commerce Stephanie Tilenius hinting at a future tie-in. The Google Shopper app has been updated alongside the Market revamp, adding an Offers dashboard for nearby deals, saved coupons and alerts. With plans for incorporating Offers with Google Wallet, the NFC-supported Google+ wouldn’t be an unexpected merger.