Google Exploring Subscription-Based Access To Premium Apps


Google is in the testing stage for a monthly subscription that would give Android users something similar to Apple’s Arcade, which is launching in the fall, Android Police reported on Wednesday (July 31).  

The service, called Play Pass, would offer users access to premium apps and games for a monthly fee of $4.99. The apps would be free of ads and in-app purchases. 

News of the service first came from a user, but Google confirmed the testing stage to Android Police. The $7.99 Stardew Valley is said to be included, as well as Marvel Pinball, Risk and others. 

Apple’s Arcade will include LEGO, Annapurna Interactive, Cartoon Network and Sega and exclusive titles. Google may consider launching Play Pass around the same time Apple releases Arcade.

In contrast with Apple Arcade, Play Pass will also offer non-entertainment software free of ads and in-app purchases. It’s not known if Google’s service will be available on Android TV.

Google’s news comes on the heels of its new service dubbed pending transactions, which lets Android users choose different payment options at checkout when purchasing an app or making an in-app purchase. Users can also request a payment code and pay with cash at a physical store. 

Google is trying to address the widespread lack of credit in emerging markets, as it’s one of the reasons people continue to use free-to-play and ad-supported apps. Google already supports eWallets, UPI in India and carrier billing, but is looking for more ways to overcome the hurdle. In another effort, Google announced Subscribe & Install, which provides Android users with access to a free trial subscription when installing the app. In other innovations, Google aligned with gold bullion refiner MMTC-PA to let Google Pay users in India purchase and sell gold on the app. India is the world’s second-largest consumer of gold, as it is core to Indian culture and tradition. Google also announced plans for the Pixel 4, which responds to facial recognition and hand gestures.