Google Android Market Gets ATandT Direct Carrier Billing

Google said AT&T customers with Android smartphones may now download applications from the Android Market and bill them directly to their wireless service bills.

Google Dec. 22 introduced AT&T Direct Carrier Billing for customers who want to charge applications they download from the Android Market to their wireless service bill.

AT&T customers who own Android handsets such as the Samsung Captivate, HTC Aria and Motorola Backflip can search for apps in the revamped Android Market and charge their purchases with only a few clicks, according to Android developer team member Eric Chu.

That's a big convenience over having to use a credit card to charge for apps. AT&T joins T-Mobile as the only two U.S. wireless carriers to enable direct billing for Android Market apps. Google has no such arrangements in Europe.

"With the combination of Android Market's new app discovery features and a carrier-backed frictionless payment method, users will find it significantly easier to discover and purchase applications of their choice," Chu added in a blog post.

Direct Carrier Billing has actually been gradually rolling out to all AT&T users over the past several days as part of a general update to the Market.

This update includes a new carousel view on the home and category screens for finding apps easier, a 15-minute refund window, dynamic Wallpaper and Widget categories, among other things.

Chu also promised that Google will partner with more carriers to offer direct billing. Verizon Wireless would normally be an obvious choice considering all of the successful Motorola Droid phones in its lineup.

However, Verizon also declared a bit of war versus the Android Market in launching its own V Cast App Store for Android apps in September.

Sprint, whose HTC Evo 3G and Samsun Epic 4G Android handsets have proven popular in the U.S., might be the next viable option

Google could also still partner with PayPal to make paying for Android Market apps much more universal and smooth. PayPal has roughly 90 million users.

Considering that Google is seeing 300,000 Android phones switched on each day such improvements are imperative for the success of the platform going forward.