Happy first birthday Google Play, and thanks for the gifts

Google Play First BirthdayOn March 6, 2012, Google changed the name of the Android Market to Google Play, providing the firm with a single location through which it could sell all its digital content (and as it turns out, hardware too). The more marketable name would eventually tie-in neatly with other, single word services such as Google Drive, and less than a month after it was renamed, a direct link to the Play store was added to the navigation bar at the top of the Google home page.

As a quick glance at a calendar will confirm, today is Google Play’s first birthday and to celebrate, Google and many of its loyal developers have a variety of gifts for Android users to download. The selection of what’s on offer varies depending on your location, but almost everyone seems to have access to a free $15 gift card from Fancy, 10 percent off with Hotels.com, plus exclusive levels and characters in games such as Gnome Village, Royal Revolt and Yumby Smash.

If you’re in the U.S. or another country where music, video and books are available, you can add the pilot episode of Breaking Bad, music from LCD Soundsystem and The Velvet Underground, plus a selection of $0.99 film rentals to the list. It’s going to be a week-long promotion, so if nothing catches your eye today, have a look back tomorrow.

The Play store has been instrumental in making Android even more of a success over the past year, and now contains more than 700,000 applications. Counting the time it was known as the Android Market, Google Play has seen at least 25 billion downloads, but as this figure was reported in November last year, expect it to be revised along with the total app count during Google I/O in May.

All together, then: “Happy Birthday to you, Happy Birthday to you…”