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Google Play 4.4: Google Play Newstand and navigation drawer

We now know there will be a Google Play event on October 24th. Whether or not the Nexus 5, Nexus 10 or Android 4.4 will make an appearance is not yet known, but new screen shots show that Google will adjust bring its Play Store app to version 4.4 with notable changes to its navigation. However, the screen shots are partially contradictory and raise more than a few questions. Is the update a step backwards?

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What revelations will be shared on October 24th? / © Google

If you look at Google's standard apps on your Android device, you can currently find in almost all of them the same navigation option at the top left of the screen. To access the navigation drawer you simply swipe to the right from the left edge of the screen. Version 4.4 of the Google Play app looks to be bringing this function to the Play Store too, as you can see from the recently leaked screen shots. With this ''improvement,'' the Android context menu (more accurately called ''Action Overflow'') at the top right is to be shortened to just two points: "Settings" and "Help" and the other menu options will shift to the navigation drawer.

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Consistent navigation drawer access in current Google apps. / © AndroidPIT
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Google Play 4.4 with navigation drawer (left) and the current Play Store. / © Android Police/AndroidPIT

Here, however, there is a question: if the navigation drawer is introduced, what happens to the category tabs that are currently accessed by swiping left and right? Will these disappear, remain where they are or be incorporated into the new navigation drawer? It seems impossible that quick access to categories like Top Free, Top Paid, Trending and Top Grossing would be deleted? Surely this would be a step backwards from the viewpoint of simplicity?

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The current Play Store with Action Overflow menu (left), and the new Play Store with navigation drawer icon and shorter Action Overflow menu. However, category tabs are still visible. / © Android Police/AndroidPIT

This is where the screen shots make the situation even more confusing. One screen shot shows the slidable categories present in version 4.4 as before. We know that this is the newer version, as the navigation drawer symbol is visible in the top left. But if they remain, how do you access the navigation drawer from the furthest right category tab? In the case of the Apps tab in the screen shot, to get to the navigation drawer from the Trending tab would require eight swipes to the right!

Perhaps this just means that the Apps tab in the screen shots hasn't been updated to remove the category tabs, as we can see in the next screen shots below. On the Play Store home page screen shot, the navigation drawer is visible, and in the Movies & TV category we can see the same navigation drawer with no category tabs visible. The question now is: how do you access those categories if they're not on screen like in the current version of the Play Store (or like the Apps category screen shots above), or in the navigation drawer?

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The front page of the Play Store with navigation drawer (left) and the Movies & TV section with the navigation drawer and old ''back arrow'' icon but no categories tabs. Where'd they go? / © Android Police

It gets even more confusing when you look at the Movies & TV category screen shot, because it shows the navigation drawer with the old ''back arrow'' icon we're already familiar with from the current version of the Play Store app, but with no category tabs. This obviously means the screen shots are from a far from finished version of the app, but the questions these current screen shots pose about navigation and categories are definitely interesting.

Android Police have also uncovered code in the 4.4 APK that refers to the newspaper version of Google Play Magazines: aptly titled Google Play Newstand. It seems highly likely that sooner or later the Newstand digital news service will incorporate Magazines as well, and the latter will die a quiet death. But in the meantime both Magazines and Newstand will probably be offered concurrently to keep everyone happy. Artem Russakovskii from Android Police also claims the October 24th press event won't even be the launch of the new version of the Play Store app, but rather a generic press junket.

What are your thoughts on this confusing new navigation? And what do you think the press event will be all about?


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  • Apple's iPad refresh is happening tomorrow night, and the earliest event we know of by Google is the October 24th Google Play event, but depending on who you believe, that event will be a general media walkthrough of Google Play, not the launch of version 4.4 of the Play Store app and certainly not any hardware releases. So it's all up in the air still, but the next best dates for KitkKat and the Nexus 5 are the 28th or the 31st...

  • CJ Brown Oct 21, 2013 Link to comment

    So, is Google waiting for Apple to do their press conference involving new Apple electronic goods first? Or, are they trying to do their press conference before Apple's?

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