Google has been bringing more and more of its services to iOS over the years, and a new one just launched today: users can now play back movies and TV shows they've purchased from Google Play on their iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch. Design-wise, it's very reminiscent of the Google Play web store and is fairly similar to the Android app, but unfortunately there are some pretty serious compromises in this new app.
For starters, you can't actually buy movies or TV in the app itself; this isn't a surprise, as Apple would be able to take a cut of all those sales. Other Google Play apps for iOS like music and books also don't offer a store, and Amazon's apps similarly don't let you buy media. However, a bigger miss is offline playback — there's no way to sync any content for playing back when you don't have an internet connection. That's a major omission for a mobile video app and pretty much makes it only useful when you have a Wi-Fi connection. You also can't play on-the-go — video will only stream over a Wi-Fi connection.
At the very least, videos loaded quickly without any buffering and quality looked solid, as well. If you've heavily invested in the Google Play media ecosystem, it's good that there's now an option to watch your videos on iOS — you can even send them to Chromecast if you want to watch on your TV. That said, it does feel like it serves a fairly small target market, and without offline playback it's not likely to supplant Apple's own iTunes Store for the vast majority of users.
Update: This post originally stated that rented movies weren't available on iOS, but Google let us know that both rented and purchased content should show up and be playable in the new app.