4K resolution (3840 x 2160) has become a hot commodity in recent years. With systems like the Xbox One S and the PS4 Pro (formerly codenamed “PS4 Neo”), as well as prominent television manufacturers such as Samsung and LG jumping on the 4K bandwagon, it seems if it isn’t in 4K, it isn’t worth anything. Looking to get a piece of the 4K pie, Google has begun rolling out 4K support for movies and TV shows in its Google Play store.
In a blog post written by Ben Serridge, product manager at Google — specifically, Google Play Movies & TV — he briefly (and briskly) dives into the history of the Movies & TV section in the Google Play store.
“When we first made movies available on Android (a little over five years ago), they were only available on Android devices in the U.S., and you could only rent movies from three major studios.”
According to Serridge, Google Play Movies & TV has grown into “the most broadly available digital seller of movies & TV shows” and has movies available in 117 countries, including Armenia, Belarus, Chile, Gabon, and many others. Conversely, TV shows in available countries are limited to Australia, Austria, Canada, France, Germany, Japan, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and the United States. As of December 6, the date which the blog post was published, Google Play Movies & TV has added three key features with 4K Ultra HD (UHD), VR support, and a dedicated Google Play Movies & TV app on 2016 Samsung Smart TVs.
4K Ultra HD
As stated by Serridge, “more than 125 movies [are available] in 4K resolution.” While 125 sounds like a good number of movies to choose from, the entirety of the Google Play Movies & TV store houses significantly more than 125 movies, unfortunately. Furthermore, the language is unclear: It seems Google is starting to roll out 4K to the U.S. and Canada but doesn’t clarify whether it’ll branch out to the other “117 countries” the Google Play store is available in, or when this rollout will happen. Additionally, it isn’t uncertain whether 4K will extend to TV shows in the Google Play store as well. But hey, at least if you buy a new Chromecast Ultra your first 4K movie is free.
In collaboration with Daydream, which is Google’s virtual reality headset separate from its Cardboard or Jump rigs, Google introduced VR streaming even while offline back in October of this year. According to the blog post, you can watch more than 10,000 titles in virtual reality using the Daydream platform and the propriety headset. (It’s unknown whether this will work with Google Cardboard.)
The Dedicated App
If you happened to participate in Black Friday this year and picked up a swanky new 2016 model Samsung Smart TV, then you’ll have a dedicated Google Play Movies & TV app installed on the TV. This means that a laptop or Chromecast plugged into one of the TV’s HDMI ports will no longer be necessary, freeing up the port for another PS4, an Xbox One, or — if you were lucky enough to grab it on day one — the NES Classic Edition. Lamentably, this only extends to 2016 model Samsung Smart TVs, so if you didn’t pick up a specific model like the 2016 Samsung SUHD TV, then you don’t have access to this app. It’s uncertain whether there will be an update available for older Samsung TV models, as well as whether Google will release a dedicated app to other television manufacturers like LG, Sony, and Panasonic. For the time being, however, if you do have an Android device and use the Google Play store, you can browse the selection of 4K and VR supported movies and TV shows here.
[Featured Image by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images]