Long before Google got around to launching a web-based Android Market which let users click a button on a desktop web browser and automatically download and install an app on their phone, third party app directory AppBrain offered exactly that service. All you had to do was login to AppBrain with your Google ID and install the AppBrain app and a Fast Web Installer app on your phone.
Unfortunately Fast Web Installer stopped working a few months ago due to an update Google pushed to the Android Market. But now push-to-phone capabilities have returned to AppBrain.
The feature isn’t quite as smooth as Google’s solution. You still need to install both AppBrain apps on your phone. You can’t install paid apps this way, because AppBrain doesn’t have access to your Google Checkout information. And you may find apps on the AppBrain web site that are not actually available in your region, so clicking the install button won’t actually accomplish anything.
But since AppBrain does have better app recommendation, filtering, and discovery features than the Android Market, it’s good to hear that the Fast Web Installer is functional again. Before Google launched its web-to-phone installer, I suspect that AppBrain’s killer feature for many users. Now that it’s back, it will help the company remain competitive… although support for paid apps would be nice.