The Disney Movie Anywhere app now lives up to its name — after launching for iOS and the iTunes Store earlier this year, Disney is now bringing its movie-curating app to Android and Google Play. That partnership between Disney and Google means that things just got a lot easier for anyone who wants to watch their Disney movie library across both Android and iOS devices. Now, any Disney, Pixar, or Marvel Universe movies you purchase on Google Play, as well as anything you’ve bought in the past, can automatically be added to a Disney account — where those movies can live alongside anything you previously purchased on iTunes or redeemed using the digital copy that accompanies many physical DVD and Blu-Ray purchases.
It sounds a little complicated at first glance, but in the demo Google and Disney executives gave us, it’s a pretty seamless process. When you create a Disney Movies Anywhere account on Disney’s site (or in Disney’s iOS and Android apps), you’re now given the option to link both your iTunes and Google Play accounts to it. Once those accounts are added, you’ll be able to play of those Disney movies through the Disney Movies Anywhere app or on Disney’s site, regardless of where you first purchased them.
Even more notable is the fact that movies you’ve bought on iTunes will show up in the native Google Play app and vice-versa — regardless of which platform you’re using, all the movies will be available through the native Android and iOS video apps as well as the Disney Movies Anywhere app. It’s probably the first time you’ve been able to buy movies from whichever store you prefer and get access to them on a competing platform. While the Ultraviolet initiative has also tried to remove cross-platform video ownership barriers, it has yet to work with the native iOS and Android video apps — not to mention their extremely popular media stores.
The new Disney Movies Anywhere Android app itself is essentially identical to its iOS counterpart. It offers a curated "featured movies" tab with categories like "villainous viewing" and "Halloween spooktacular" as well as a more general "movies" tab with categories like "Pixar," "Marvel’s cinematic universe," all animation, and so forth. The app does feel purely native to Android, using Google’s design language throughout — it doesn’t feel at all like a quick and dirty port of the iOS app. It also uses Google Play to manage all your purchases and downloads — rather than offering its own storefront, Disney is relying on Google and Apple’s stores. It’s just keeping track of what Disney content you’ve purchased, regardless of retailer, and making sure you can access it anywhere.
Disney has built the best cross-platform movie experience we've seen so far
While getting Google on board is a big step for Disney, it’s still not quite fair to say the company has met its goal of being "anywhere" just yet. There’s no comparable app for Windows Phone users, and there are also a host of other online retailers not included — most notably Amazon. That said, Disney CTO Jamie Voris told us that the company definitely intents to keep adding more partners wherever it can. And even in its current state, having both Apple and Google on board means Disney is probably offering the best cross-platform movie-watching solution available. The new Android app will be available today, and Disney is offering anyone who signs up and links their Google account to Disney Movies Anywhere will get a free digital copy of Wreck-It Ralph — a nice freebie that helps alleviate the pain of having yet another account to manage.