Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) July 12 announced an upgrade to its Android Market client for Android smartphones that allows U.S. users to rent movies and purchase books right from their handsets, and includes a spruced-up user interface.
U.S. users with Android 2.2 smartphones and later will be able to rent thousands of movie titles from their handsets with Google's Videos application from the Android Market.
This application was originally enabled first for tablets based on the freshest Android 3.1 tablet build. Titles range from $1.99 to $3.99 for new flicks. Google provides movie content from its cloud, allowing users to buy once and watch it on any Android device.
"There's no more waiting for downloads, syncing, or worrying about storage space," said Google Product Manager Paul Montoy-Wilson. "Simply sign into Android Market with your Google account, and you can rent movies from anywhere-the Web, or your Android phone or tablet-and start watching instantly."
Importantly, users may also download movies to their handset or tablet so they're available for viewing even when they don't have an Internet connection. This is ideal for people traveling somewhere where they may not be able to pick up a WiFi or cellular data connection.
The Videos application rakes in content from YouTube's Movies application. Search Engine Land's Greg Sterling grabbed the new Android Market client and the Videos application from his HTC Evo 4G and began using it.
U.S. users may also now purchase books from Android Market through their phone. Just as with the Android Market movies application, books are linked to users' Google account in the cloud, making them instantly available across all their devices.
The new Android Market application will be rolling out to U.S. users in the coming weeks, with the update coming over the air on supported phones, said Montoy-Wilson. Google said it would bring these capabilities to "select countries outside the U.S. soon."
Google has also added several new UI perks to the new Android Market smartphone client. Eric Chu, from Google's Android Developer Ecosystem, said the new Market client does a better job of showcasing top applications and games and makes it easier for users to download or purchase applications.
The home screen includes a new promotional page that highlights top content, including favorite books and movies.
Google also added its application lists right to the Apps and Games home pages, allowing users to see what other people are downloading in the Top Paid, Top Free, Top Grossing, Top New Paid, Top New Free and Trending lists.
Users who are ready to buy an application can make their purchase in two clicks from the application details page. This new Market client will be coming to Android 2.2 and later phones worldwide soon.