Google Play Magazines is no more. The fledgling service has been shuttered, replaced by Google's Newsstand. Newsstand, which has long been rumored, offers both newspaper and magazine publications. It’s just like a — well, a newsstand. The icon is new, replacing the magazine with a newspaper, perhaps hinting at the focus of the refreshed service.
We now have the option to subscribe to newspapers as well as get magazines, just as we've grown used to. When compared to the other newsstand — iOS’s variant — OS agnostic users will find it to be much like that service. Magazines, Newspapers, and even a way to find new content, rolled into the app. The categories have even been pinched from iOS, with “Art & Photography” and “Automotive” the first two subsections we see under the Explore tab.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like much has been added in the way of Magazines. Google has long been struggling to find their way with media content, and while Newsstand does a better job, the work is still not done. Adding a newspaper subscription model is definitely going to draw a few users in, but is it enough to keep them interested? It could, but we see a reaching effect for Newsstand that affects another Google service.
Under the “Top News” section of the Play Store Newsstand tab, we find the aforementioned newspaper models — which also allow for limited free reading daily — but we also see quite a bit of content that mimics Currents. Some website fodder is built into the “subscription” model, leading us to think that Google may be testing one service against the other. While we find Currents to be one of the better readers around, we wouldn’t be sad to see it rolled into another service, so long as Google ported subscriptions over. Some are reporting Currents is gone, but we're still seeing it on our Nexus 4.
If Google’s aim was to pinch one of the best all-in-one reading services from Apple, they’ve done a decent job so far. The interface is nice, and easy to navigate. The selection is decent, but has a long way to go. Like the rest of their media content, Google has some catching up to do.