Tech Tip: Shopping for Android Apps on the Web



Q. I sometimes look at apps on the Google Play website with my computer. When I am on an app description page, it sometimes says the app is not compatible with my device, and sometimes the page incorrectly says I don’t have any devices. Where does it get this information?

A. To buy apps from the Google Play store, you need a Google account. If you did not already have a Google account (perhaps from using Gmail or YouTube), you probably created one when you went on your first Google Play shopping trip when you first set up your Android phone or tablet. When you added the account to your device, its information was synced with Google’s servers.


The Google Play store can tell you if an app is compatible with your Android device if you are logged in with the same Google account you use with your phone or tablet.

The New York Times

If you are actively logged into your Google account through the web browser you are using to browse the Google Play store, the site knows what type of Android phone or tablet you have because it is registered with your account. (When you are logged into your Google account, you can even see an online list of the apps you have downloaded for your Android device.)

Based on the specifications of your hardware, the Google Play store displays compatibility information with the apps you are browsing. If the software requires elements your hardware does not have — like a cellular connection when you have only a Wi-Fi tablet — the page will display a warning that says, “This app is incompatible with your device.”

If you are not logged into the Google account associated with your Android gear when you are browsing the Google Play store, the site does not recognize you. This is when you see the “You don’t have any devices” statement.

If you happen to find a compatible app you want while you are browsing the store on your computer, you can schedule an installation on your mobile device right there. Just click the Buy or Install button on the app’s page. Google’s servers will push a download of the app out to your phone or tablet when the device is connected to the internet — saving you some time because you do not have to remember the name of the app you wanted to get when you were browsing the web on your computer.

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