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03 February 2011, 12:00

Google launches Android Market on the web

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Android Market Logo Originally, Google's presentation yesterday at its headquarters in Mountain View, California, was expected to revolve mainly around Honeycomb, the tablet version of Android. However, the real news was about Android app's: firstly, Android Market is now also available on the web; secondly, Android users will be able to buy content from within their apps – via "in-app" purchases.

The web store for Android app's, first announced by Google in May 2010, is now available at Users who are logged in with their Google accounts can buy app's and assign them to Android devices they have registered with Google. However, attempts to log in currently produce an error message for some users, which Google says it is working to resolve. The app's are then downloaded and installed on all selected (and compatible) smartphones and tablets automatically. Previously, the Android Market was only accessible via the Android Market app on a user's device.

Zoom Android users can now also rummage through Google's app store from their web browsers. Purchased apps are transferred to Android smartphones automatically.
In-app purchases are to become possible before the end of March – Apple's iOS devices have already supported this feature for some time. Google plans to provide documentation on the new function to developers soon. Programmers will then be able to sell, for instance, new game levels or media content to users. Google hasn't said a word about its share of the turnover – with app's, Google, like Apple, retains 30% of the purchase price.

Google also announced that developers will in future be able to state their app prices in other currencies. Previously, app's were offered in the developer's local currency, while users from other countries were presented with converted amounts. Google said nothing about any plans to introduce new payment methods in addition to the current credit card option.

The vendor gave another demonstration of the Android 3.0 user interface developed for tablet PCs (known as "Honeycomb"): at the bottom of the screen, a "system bar" displays notifications and a task manager for the most recently used app's. At the top of the screen, an "action bar" controlled by the current app offers context-related controls such as cut, copy and paste buttons.

The first apps developed for Honeycomb tablets were presented by CNN and a games developer whose action and strategy games use Google's newly developed "Renderscript" 3D engine.

Google had first presented the new version of Android at a conference in December. At the International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) held in January, numerous vendors, including Motorola, Asus, Toshiba and Lenovo, then presented iPad competitors running Android 3.0. In late January, Google made a preview of the Software and Native Development Kit for Android apps available to developers.

Google didn't provide a launch date for the first Honeycomb devices yesterday, but industry insiders are currently anticipating the first tablet launches in April. A full video of the Honeycomb / Android Market event is now available on YouTube.

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