Newer phones that come preinstalled with Android 4.0, aka Ice Cream Sandwich (ICS), display some differences from older devices that simply receive the ICS software upgrade. One major difference is in the Google Play Store. Let’s dig in and see how the Play Store works in the latest hardware that ships with Ice Cream Sandwich.

Managing your apps

One of the aspects I like the most about the Google Play Store app on newer Android phones with ICS is the ability to manage both installed applications and Play Store settings directly from within the Play Store. The main difference is how you get to the settings. Since the menu button no longer exists, to get to this menu, you have to tap the three vertical dots in the upper right corner of the Play Store (Figure A).
Figure A

Here’s the Google Play Store as seen from a Verizon-branded Samsung Galaxy Nexus.

When you’re on the My Apps screen, the menu will display the following options:

  • Accounts
  • Settings
  • Help

If, however, you’re within an app page (Figure B), you’ll be presented with the following options (by tapping the menu button):

  • My Apps
  • Accounts
  • Settings
  • Help

Figure B

The settings here are for the Google Play Store, not the app.

The Google Play Store on older hardware offers the same menu items, regardless of which screen you are in.

One very handy aspect of the Google Play Store is the ability to set up the auto-updating of apps. This means you won’t have to manually go through and update every app as they become available. There are two things that must be done to set up auto-updating. Here’s how to do it.

  1. Open up the Google Play Store
  2. Tap the menu button
  3. Tap Settings
  4. Tap Auto-update apps (make sure it’s checked)
  5. Now, go into the app you want to have auto-update
  6. Tap Allow automatic updating (make sure it’s checked)

Once you’ve take care of the above two settings, that application will automatically update as soon as a new release is available. You can set any and all applications you like to auto-update. If you wind up setting numerous apps for this feature, you might consider going back into the Settings window and enabling the option for Update over Wi-Fi only. If you don’t do this, you could wind up going over your allowed data usage for the month.

I have numerous Android devices that I work with (phones and tablets). Each phone seems to have a different set of apps installed. What’s nice about the Google Play Store is that I can add any application to any of my devices associated with my account from within the phone’s Google Play Store app or from the Google Play Store web site.

To install apps associated with your Google account, do the following:

  1. Open the Google Play Store
  2. Tap the menu button
  3. Tap My Apps
  4. Swipe the window to the left to reveal ALL
  5. Scroll through the listing to the app you want to install
  6. Tap the app you want to install
  7. Go through the standard installation procedure

To do the same from the Google Play Store, do the following:

  1. Point your browser to the Google Play Store
  2. Log into your account (your Google account credentials)
  3. Click on My Apps
  4. Locate the app you want to install
  5. Click the app listing
  6. Click the Install button
  7. Select the device you want to send the app to from the drop-down menu (Figure C)
  8. Click Install
  9. Click OK

Figure C

You can install each app to multiple devices, but you have to run through the process for each.

The application will then be automatically sent to the chosen device.

Managing applications with Android has never been easier. Now, with the latest version of the Google Play Store, you can manage those apps from different locations to keep better tabs on everything you have across an array of devices.

What other differences have you noticed on your newer Android devices that come with ICS preinstalled? Share your experience in the discussion thread below.