Android Market Gets Makeover
The Android Market has gotten a significant upgrade, including a Web-based browsing system, and new payment and currency options.
The new Android Market should help quell a number of the frustrations expressed by developers, who have generally ranked the application-buying experience on Android far below that for the rival iOS system Apple uses for the iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad.
The most substantial change announced by Google is the Web interface. Android users can now access the Market from any Web-enabled device, including desktop and laptop computers. Previously, access was only available through an Android device like a phone or tablet.
The Web site is initially available in English only, but new languages are coming, Google promises.
Another much-clamored-for feature is "in-app billing," which allows users to do things like buy upgrades, virtual goods and move from demos to paid versions within the app. In-app billing is getting a gradual rollout -- "Before the end of this quarter, the service will be live for users," says Google.
The other major improvement is "Buyer's Currency," which allows developers to price an app differently in different countries. In addition, an app's cost will be shown in the user's native currency. Currently, apps are available for purchase in 32 countries. This is another gradual rollout; Google says it will take about four months to finish the process, and starts in the U.S.
Keith Ward is the editor in chief of Visual Studio Magazine.