Amazon has launched its Appstore for Android, offering 3,800 free and paid apps for Google Android phones and tablets. Once you install the Appstore on your device you can use it to search or browse for apps, refine your search by price, release date, or average customer review. You can also change the sort order to show results by relevance, price, best selling apps, or other criteria.

In other words, the Appstore offers one of Amazon’s key strengths: It’s relatively easy to find what you’re looking for.You can also use the Amazon web site in a desktop browser to search for apps and add them to your device with 1-click… although you then need to follow up by opening the Appstore on your Android device and click a few more buttons to actually install the app. It’s not quite as elegant a solution as the official Google Android Market web installer.

While you can sort search results by price using the Appstore mobile app, the home screen is populated with top paid and free apps from all categories.

The biggest problem with the Amazon Appstore is that it takes a bit of work to install. The process really isn’t all that complicated, but Amazon’s 8-step installation guide makes it look a bit more cumbersome than it is. Fortunately you only have to install the Appstore once.

You just enter your phone number of email address and Amazon sends you a download link. Once you download the file, you click it to install — although on some phones you may have to first dig into your settings to enable support for non-Market apps.

Right now the Amazon Appstore has about 3,800 apps including Angry Birds Rio, a new app from the makers of the popular Angry Birds video games which is available exclusively from Amazon. But while that might seem like a lot of apps, it’s a tiny number compared with the official Google Android Market, which has well over 100,000 apps.

Update: An ad-supported version of Angry Birds Rio is also now available from the Android Market.

Still, the Amazon Appstore is worth keeping an eye on, if for no other reason than the fact that if you already have an Amazon account you can use your default payment method to purchase apps. Amazon’s excellent search, recommendation, and customer ratings certainly don’t hurt either.

The other thing to keep an eye on is the name. If Apple has its way, Amazon may have to change the name of the Appstore to something that sounds a bit less like… well, “App Store.”

Update: The folks at Droid Life discovered that at least some apps download from the Amazon Appstore won’t run if you uninstall the Appstore.

For now the Amazon Appstore is only available in the US.

Brad Linder

Brad Linder is editor of Liliputing and Mobiputing. He's been tinkering with mobile tech for decades and writing about it since...

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