Google had promised us an all-new refresh of the ageing Google Play (for desktop) interface at this year’s I/O developer conference, and we’ve finally got it. The new look brings it aesthetically closer to Google’s Android mobile platform, but more importantly, the upgrade was sorely needed — the updated design, according to Google, makes it “easier to browse and discover new favorites”. They’re not kidding.

Play for desktop now sports large tiles, monochromatic colour scheme for icons, slick transition animation, clean lines and an excellent left-hanging sidebar for easy access and navigation (no doubt, taking advantage of the extra real estate available on your PC monitor). Yes, the Indian store is rather limited in its selection of digital and physical items, but the new interface does make accessing available content much easier than before. The sidebar, in particular, makes jumping between categories a breeze — head to a particular category (say, ‘Movies’), and you’ll be able to filter content as well as instantly navigate to another category (‘Books’ or ‘Devices’) via the sidebar.

As mentioned earlier, the amount of non-app content is very limited at the moment — this results in sparsely populated pages. Click on ‘New Movie Releases’, for instance, and you’re greeted with a page that has about 12 movies that aren’t necessarily new. So, it’s only logical to take a look at Play’s ‘Apps’ section to get an idea of the scalability of the new interface. The new, large hi-res icons really make an impression and the tiled design is an incredible step up (and forward) from the clutter of the previous look. Apps (as well as all physical and digital items on the store) now have a full screen dedicated to them, where you can buy, look at screenshots, get info and reviews.

The app pages benefit greatly from the extra page-space for recommendations — once the volume of content grows, this should be great for movie and music recommendations as well. Head to the Temple Run: Oz page, for example, and you’ll have about 10 ‘similar’ app recommendations as well as a near-comprehensive list of apps from the same developer.

Parallels have been drawn between Google Play’s refreshed interface and Microsoft’s ‘Modern’ UI (formerly ‘Metro’), or more particularly, the tile-driven design philosophy. But a closer look will reveal that the new look is more mobile (Android) inspired, with the aim of bringing uniformity to the Play experience across platforms. However, as long as Google Play for desktop remains browser-only, it will have its limitations. Google Play would benefit greatly from a standalone app for PC and Mac, with a built-in media player (with cross-platform streaming capability of purchased content), library and device management features. For now, however, it’s good to see Google Play for desktop take a step into 2013 in terms of design. Experience it for yourself at play.google.com.