It’s been about a year since Google teased us with a web-based store for the Google Android Market. Today it finally launched.
You can visit the web-based Android Market at market.android.com. From the web site you can find apps by searching, browsing by category, or viewing featured apps. Each app has a details page which shows a description, reviews, user permissions required, and related apps.
There’s also an install button that lets you click a button to send the app to your phone. In other words, you can open the Android Market on your desktop or laptop computer, find apps, and install them on your phone — all without actually touching your phone.
To be honest, this is all something that third party app store AppBrain offered up until recently. The only reason AppBrain stopped letting you push apps to phones is because Google made some changes to the Market that disabled AppBrain’s service.
But to be honest, Google’s new web page actually does look at least as good as AppBrain. It also allows you to pay for apps using the Google Checkout service.
When you click on an Android Market in a desktop web browser, you’ll be taken to the appropriate web page. When you click the same link on a mobile device, you’ll be taken directly to the app’s listing in the Android Market.
Google also announced that the Android Market will soon support buyer-specific pricing, allowing developers to set specific prices in different currencies. Right now if a Japanese developer uploads an app, it’s sold in yen and the Market converts the currency to dollars when you checkout — which can lead to a confusing and inconsistent experience. Soon that developer will be able to set specific pricing for the US, Japan, and other regions.
Finally, Google announced that it will soon provide an SDK for in-app purchases, allowing developers to collect payments for virtual goods, new levels, or other content. This will also allow developers to offer free trial software, while selling an unlock key for the full version within the app. Right now you typically have to buy a separate app to unlock full versions of free apps.
Update: I just logged in with my Google account, and the the web store automatically provided a list of apps installed on my phone, along with categories, price, install date, and other information. There’s also a list of apps that I’ve purchased and returned for a refund in the past. The settings tab under “My Account” lets you see Android devices registered to your account. You can change the device nicknames under settings as well.