Hands-On: Amazon Launches Appstore for Android
Amazon has just launched its Appstore for Android with 3,800 apps, offering fans of the Google platform an alternative to the Android Market. If you think the Amazon store’s name sounds a bit familiar, you aren’t alone; Apple is already suing Amazon for trademark infringement, claiming Amazon’s Appstore for Android sounds to similar to the Mac App Store launched earlier this year.
The Appstore is already live, but starting tonight, it will be accessible via amazon.com/appstore. Android users will also be able to download the Appstore on their handsets. The Appstore is currently available to all users in the U.S., excluding those who have a contract with AT&T. (AT&T is working to change that, and users can sign up to receive a notice when access is available.)
Amazon’s initial offering of 3,800 apps pales in comparison to the more than 200,000 apps available both through the Android Market and the iTunes store. So far, the bestselling apps on the Appstore include Angry Birds, Fruit Ninja, Shazam Encore, and ZombieBooth.
Free Paid Apps and Test Drives
Perhaps hoping to entice Android users away from the Market, the Appstore for Android will offer one paid app for free each day. This deal kicked off today with a free download of Angry Birds Rio (normally $0.99), the latest installment of the Angry Birds game series.
Another nifty feature is the ability to “test drive” an app before downloading it. While not available for every application in the Appstore, this feature lets you try out a version of the app hosted on Amazon’s EC2 cloud via your browser. This functionality is not yet available for all users visiting the Appstore, but according to TechCrunch, it will be available shortly.
To see the new Appstore in action, we downloaded the free Angry Birds Rio game through the store’s desktop site. Payment is directly through Amazon, and users sign in using their Amazon account information. Once we had downloaded the app via the Appstore’s desktop site, we were given a prompt to open the Appstore on our Android handset and install the game.
Sure enough, the next time we opened the Amazon Appstore on our Samsung Indulge, an “Install” button appeared next to Angry Birds Rio; clicking it began the download, which took about 2 minutes. Buying a paid app worked similarly: Once we were signed into our Amazon account, we could easily install the FlickrLive!-Pro app ($1.60) directly from our Android phone.
It remains to be seen how well Amazon can stand up to app superstores such as those from Apple and Google, but so far the Appstore for Android looks pretty solid. Integration with Amazon accounts, a good selection of the most popular apps, and unique features such as daily deals and “test drives” bode well for the book and Kindle seller.