Up until recently there have basically been two reasons to use the Amazon Appstore as an alternative to the official Google Play Store. First, the Play Store isn’t available for all phones and tablets. And second, even if you can use Google’s marketplace Amazon offers one free app each day and sometimes runs promotions which offer discounts on other apps.

That was a big deal when the Appstore first launched last year, since Amazon was offering some top notch apps for free nearly every day. But these days the free app of the day is usually just a lousy game you’ve never heard of that normally only costs 99 cents anyway.

But this week Amazon rolled out a new feature that makes the Appstore pretty compelling again: You can try apps on your phone before downloading them.

Amazon Test Drive

Amazon has offered a “Test Drive” feature on its website all along. But now if you install version 2.6.53 or later of the Appstore on your mobile device you may be able to test drive some apps right on your phone.

There are a few caveats:

  • Only a select group of phones are currently supported.
  • Not every app is available for a test drive. Right now 16,000 of the nearly 40,000 apps in the Appstore can be taken for a Test Drive.
  • The Test Drive feature for Android phones is still in beta, so it may not always work perfectly.

That said, this is a pretty slick try-before-you-buy option. The closest thing Google offers is a 15 minute refund window. You can download and install an app, play with it for a few minutes and if you don’t like it you can “return” the app for a full refund.

But 15 minutes might not provide enough time — especially if an app takes a long time to download. With Amazon’s solution, there’s no risk of accidentally getting billed for a purchase you didn’t intend to keep.

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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