Android’s open nature allows its users to find thousands of applications not only on Google Play, but also through alternative markets that offer different services and promotional offers. And Google Play’s main rival, the Amazon Appstore, has made a name for itself by doing things differently than Android’s official market. The Appstore offers daily deals, curated apps and other interesting features not found on Google Play, and this week Amazon began rolling out its Test Drive feature, which will allow users to try out apps before downloading or buying.
The Appstore currently supports testing of more than 5,000 Android apps, and is enabled for more than 16,000 Web apps. If users have a compatible smartphone, they can first try simulating the app on their phone before deciding whether they want to buy it.
“The more we remove friction for customers who want to try apps, the more apps they will try. Those customers are more likely to find apps they are excited to download,” Amazon said in a post on its Appstore developers blog. “In this way, Test Drive helps customers understand the value of premium apps and helps drive downloads of freemium apps.”
Amazon said the test drive feature will be activated on selected compatible smartphones, and will be available for free for users who upgrade their phone with the latest version of Amazon Appstore for Android.
“Amazon brings the Test Drive experience to Amazon.com and Android phones using the massive server fleet that comprises the Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2), a web service that provides on-demand compute capacity in the cloud for developers,” Amazon said. “When customers click the Test Drive button, we launch a copy of the app on EC2. As customers interact with the app, we send those inputs over the phone’s Wi-Fi Internet connection to the app running on Amazon EC2. Our servers then send the video and audio output from the app back to the customer’s computer or phone. All this happens in real time, allowing customers to explore the features of the app as if it were running locally on their mobile device.”
The blog post goes on to note that apps requiring Java Native Interface (JNI), keyboard, multi-touch, microphone, camera, gyroscope, near-field communication or GPS are not part of the test drive feature, but soon will be included in the upgraded test drive releases.
Google doesn’t offer such lucrative services and deals or app testing to the emerging mobile platform; they are just concentrating on the increased availability of Android applications. Users can ask for a refund only once within 15 minutes from downloading the app from Google Play. We can only hope that Google Play soon introduces more consumer-centric features, which they’ll have to do if they want to remain competitive.
Facebook Upgrades App Center for Mobile
Shortly after its IPO filling Facebook announced the latest development in its forthcoming App Center for mobile apps. The company blog post said that developers can now use the Facebook App Center platform to place their apps, and iOS and Android users have streamlined options to install apps via the platform, either through their computer or mobile devices.
“Facebook sends over 160 million people to mobile apps each month through news feed and timeline,” Facebook software engineer Brent Goldman wrote in a blog post this week. “Soon, with the App Center, it will be easier than ever to drive mobile app installs and reach the over 500 million people using Facebook on mobile devices.”
The App Center is available from Facebook’s iOS app, Android app and mobile website m.facebook.com.
The move will allow developers to better integrate mobile apps with the Facebook platform, and will also provide them a stage to incorporate Facebook login on their apps. This will give the Facebook app experience some structure, as users will have the control to download apps, rate apps and get to know some detailed information about the apps before buying or downloading.
This could also help Facebook’s larger mobile strategy, as the social network could add more mobile users, which will help the company to target monetization through a budding ecosystem across mobile devices.
For installing apps from a mobile device, you can follow Goldman’s instructions as posted on the blog:
“All apps built for iOS, Android, and the mobile web have a “Send to Mobile” button on their app detail page. Once people click “Send to Mobile,”” they’re logged into your app and we immediately send a Facebook notification to their mobile device. By clicking the notification, they’ll be redirected to your mobile web app or the respective install page in the Apple App Store or Google Play.”
China Mobile App Store – An alternative to Google Play
China Mobile Ltd. saw that as an opportunity, opening its Mobile Market store for Android apps in 2009. Since then, the app store has gained 158 million registered users and more than 630 million apps have been downloaded, making it world’s largest carrier-operated app store.
“Without having to compete with the official Google store, China Mobile has an opportunity that operators in other countries don’t have,” said Kent, a London-based analyst. “China Mobile’s relationship with subscribers leaves it well- placed to take advantage.”
China is a huge market for any mobile vendor. Smartphone shipments are projected to increase 52 percent this year to 137 million units, according to a March estimate from market researcher IDC.
China’s censored web content and online stores selling apps, games and e-books are helping local players to drive and promote their other businesses.
“If a developer makes a very good app, then it will help boost traffic on our network and help our growth that way,” said China Mobile’s Chief Executive Officer Li Yue.