We have been hearing for several weeks now that Google has been preparing to automatically upgrade SD and HD movies purchased through Google Play Movies to 4K (UHD) quality. Today Google has formally announced the upgrade and it’s only for users in the US and Canada. This follows a similar move by Apple last year, however Google is upgrading SD and HD movies to UHD whereas Apple only upgraded the HD content: for those eligible for the upgrade that’s a huge bonus.
Eligible users with movies in their Google Play Movies library will automatically have their content upgraded for movies from participating studios, which includes Fox, Lionsgate, NBC Universal, Sony, and Warner Bros. Hopefully as more studios join the program more movies will be upgraded in the future. Unfortunately for Google Play Movies users outside of North America we have once again been left out in the cold.
All may not be lost for the rest of the world however, with Google also announcing cheaper pricing for UHD movies going forward. According to the blog post “most 4K movies on Google Play will cost you less”. Unfortunately I haven’t bought any 4K content to go back and check the standard pricing for an exact match, however I do seem to recall most UHD movies topped out at around $29.99 and they seem to be topping out at $24.99 today. You can check out Google Play’s “top” 4K movies here.
Google also announced updates to their Google Play movies apps on various OEMs 4K Smart TVs with Sony TVs already supporting 4K playback. An update for recent Samsung smart TV’s is already available and Google is working with other partners such as LG to bring the updated UI and 4K functionality to their devices.
There was noticeably no information about Android TV Google Play movies app and whether that will be capable of playing 4K content natively on hardware that supports it, such as the NVIDIA Shield Android TV set top box. It’s a little disappointing that Google made no mention of their own Smart TV platform, but we’ve come to expect that kind of disjointedness from them, especially where Android TV is concerned.
As always we will reach out to Google and see if we can get any information pertaining to an Australian roll out.