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Amazon’s new Android Appstore and Cloud Drive

On March 22nd Amazon launched their much speculated about Android Appstore.   This presents an interesting addition to the Android ecosphere, an app store that has the potential to outshine the official Android Market provided by Google.   All in all Amazon's Appstore isn't really too different from the Android Market.   At this point it's basically the Market after it's been Amazonized, adding a few features that could potentially set it apart, in a good way.   Amazon does have fewer apps right now and I'm sure at least part of that is to do with their app approval process.

One nice thing the Amazon store has right now is that they're giving away a free, normally paid, app each day (they're paying the app developer 20% out of their own pocket apparently).   I'm sure this won't last long term, but it's a nice bonus while it lasts.

Another interesting feature with great potential is the ability to "test drive' apps from your computer.   I tried Ball Buster, Connect 4 and the IMDB apps and found the test drive gave me a pretty good feel for how things would work on my Android devices.   "Test drive' isn't available for every app, in fact it appears pretty limited, but hopefully the number of apps you can test will grow over time as it could be a huge advantage.

There are basically two methods of shopping both the Amazon and Google stores.   You can of course do so on your device itself through the store's app or you can shop from each store's website.

The Appstore section of Amazon's website is what anyone who shops Amazon would expect.   It's got the basic Amazon "feel' to it and has a good amount of detail on each apps product page.   There are category listings as well as sections for things like Best Sellers, New Releases, Deals and Featured Developers.   The app detail pages have the Amazon standards such as "Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought' and the ever present, sometimes helpful often useless, review area.   While Google's Market website has much the same info Amazon's has a slicker "feel' to it.   The Google site does a better job of providing information such as permission requirements and honestly right now I don't find one better than the other overall.

The way many people will acquire apps is directly through the store apps installed on board their device.   Like the website Amazon's app has a certain Amazonish look to it and overall has a slicker feel to it , it's kind of a mini version of the website, while Google's has their trademark simple more bare bones feel.   Both apps work well and are fairly similar really and both get the job done. I don't see one as better than the other at this point as they both basically do the same thing and display the same info.

To install the Amazon app you must enable the installation of apps from unknown sources (in other words not from the Google Market), which Amazon’s easy instructions will walk you through and which means AT&T users are out of luck right now as AT&T doesn't allow customers to make this decision.   Reportedly AT&T and Amazon are working on a solution to get the Amazon Appstore to AT&T users that want it in the future.   Conversely folks who are using pre Android 3.0 Honeycomb tablets (like the $100-$300 ones from generic manufacturers) that can't get access to the Google Market without rooting now have a decent app store available to them if they're in the US anyway.   It also installs on the rooted Nook Color and works fine.

That brings up something that will undoubtedly annoy and baffle some users, that's right the Amazon Appstore is US only at this point. I have no idea what the reasoning behind this is.   Amazon has been known to start new things out US only before opening them up after making tweaks to the initial release and perhaps that's what's happening here.   I have read information saying a version of the store for Amazon UK is in the works.   While the Appstore for is currently only available in the US I'm told that changing your billing address to a US address (Yankee Stadium is popular) will allow the "purchase'   and download of free apps (including the daily free app).

Another thing you can't do with the Amazon store is return an app.   With apps from the Android Market you have 15 minutes (used to be 24 hours) after purchasing to request a refund, this allows you to try the app a little and also make sure it's working on your specific device.   Hopefully Amazon will implement some kind of policy similar to Google's although longer than 15 minutes would be nice.

While Amazon's Appstore doesn't beat the Android Market at this point, overall they're fairly even, it has the potential to outshine Google at its own game.   Maybe with a little time Amazon's store with its testing and approval processes will turn into the go to place to get apps.   A place between the sometimes strict and strange approval process of Apple's iThing apps store and Google's wild west anyone can come shop.

Where does the Amazon Appstore rank from a readers perspective?   In a word poorly.   They of course have the Kindle app, along with Kobo and Moon +, but that's about it.   No nook, no Borders, no Aldiko, no Overdrive so for reading apps, at this point anyway the Android Market is the place to go.

 

 


Since we're talking Amazon, I'll also make a brief mention of their new Cloud Drive service (and Cloud Player) that launched on March 29th.   Amazon is giving you 5GB of space for free and for US users who buy an album from their MP3 store you’ll get upgraded to 20GB for free for the first year. Users can also pay to upgrade their storage space at the rate of $1 per GB up to 1,000GB (space upgrades not available in all countries). I also tried the Cloud Player and used it to stream music to my Android phone and also to a web browser and it works as expected.   One nice thing is that MP3s purchased from Amazon from now on will automatically be added to your Cloud Drive giving you an automatic backup and they don’t count towards your space total (note I’d keep a local backup too just like I recommend with eBooks). This has the potential to be quite a nice service for folks who have a need/want to access their music from anywhere they can connect to the web, but how about other uses?

I was very easily able to upload a book and store it in my Documents folder on my Cloud Drive.   I was then able to login at https://www.amazon.com/clouddrive and use the Kindle's browser (works best in landscape view) to download the book. It's quite easy to download files from most devices with a web browser (tablet, phone, desktop/laptop, etc), but the real strength of the Cloud Drive right now is if you're going to use it with the Cloud Player.   For anything else I'd stick with DropBox or SugarSync at least for now.

 

Brian is an avid reader who loves books of all kinds. He's been known to try just about anything once, but is partial to SciFi, Fantasy, Mystery and Romance. His favorite authors include Jane Austen, Ray Bradbury, Jacqueline Carey, Lisa Kleypas, Michelle Sagara West, JD Robb, David Weber, Julie Miller, Lynne Connolly and Lynsay Sands.

6 Comments

  1. Christine M.
    Apr 03, 2011 @ 08:13:58

    Thanks for all the info Brian! I guess little Canadian me will just have to wait and see if we get access the Appstore anytime soon now.

    ReplyReply

  2. Angela James
    Apr 03, 2011 @ 08:15:30

    I don’t have an Android but I still found this a really informative post, and it’s nice to have an insight into this if people ask me. Thanks for taking the time to write it up, Brian!

    ReplyReply

  3. DS
    Apr 03, 2011 @ 10:57:38

    My Edge is stuck at Android 1.6 presently so this is a very useful place. There’s another site or two I know of I could buy apps from but Amazon has all my information and I don’t have to learn to trust another site with my credit card information.

    Apple by the way is suing Amazon for the use of the term app store. Apple filed to trademark the term in 2008, was rejected, appealed, granted 2010. Microsoft objected to the grant of trade mark and according to a recent Ars Technica article Microsoft and Apple are currently fighting about the size of typeface that Apple used in its response to the objection.

    (It’s easy to make fun of the typeface size dispute but a number of years ago MS Word lost legal market share because of problems with footnotes violating Federal Court requirements.)

    ReplyReply

  4. Ridley
    Apr 03, 2011 @ 11:22:10

    How on earth did they get a trademark for “app store?” That’s like trademarking “book store.”

    Apple makes my head hurt.

    In other news, Amazon is also on the carpet for launching the Cloud Player without securing new licenses from the record labels. Apparently Apple and Google have wanted to set up a similar service, but have been negotiating with the music industry over it. Meanwhile Amazon’s said “fuck it” and plowed right ahead, arguing that no new licenses are called for beyond the user ones at the point of sale.

    I’m interested to see what happens. I think Amazon’s got the right of it.

    ReplyReply

  5. Mitzi H
    Apr 05, 2011 @ 01:23:45

    My understanding is Apple's store is called “app store” and Amazon's store is “appstore” = 2 different spellings….but of course Apple will sue them because they want total control of all applications the same way they have managed to get the top 6 publishers to price ‘fix' all new ebook releases…..I say, No Way Jose…The more they try to CRAM their EXCLUSIVE Control over us buyers, the more We users Will Retaliate!!! We will find a way to CIRCUMVENT your TRICKERY!!!

    ReplyReply

  6. Gwen Hayes
    Apr 13, 2011 @ 12:47:48

    I’m finding the Amazon Uploader glitchy, which I guess is to be expected since it’s new. I wish now I would have just uploaded my music to the cloud manually, though. I understand it won’t load my WMA formated music, but it’s not taking all my mp3 either. For instance, two different albums I’ve downloaded from Amazon only had two tracks each go across the uploader. This means that if I want ALL my music on that cloud, I need to go cross reference each album individually.

    I have a lot of albums.

    So…I like the Cloud. I’m interested in this for my music (seems easier than syncing my phone to my computer)–but a lot of work is going to have to happen to get it “just so”.

    I just wanted to warn anyone using the Uploader to check.

    ReplyReply

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