Google Launches Android Market Webstore During 'Honeycomb' Demo

Google rolled out the Android Market Webstore to let consumers make application purchases and downloads via a Web browser from a dedicated Website.

Google Feb. 2 launched the Android Market Webstore, a Website dedicated to letting application consumers purchase apps for their Android smartphones and tablets from a Web browser.

To this point, users had to purchase Android apps through the Android Market client from smartphones and tablets such as the Samsung Galaxy Tab. This experience made it difficult for users to find, download and purchase apps.

Moreover, with Android the leading smartphone platform in the United States and several tablets such as the Motorola Xoom on the way, it's time Google improved its application market experience.

Chris Yerga, an engineering director for cloud services for Google's Android group, said at an event to showcase Google's new Android 3.0 "Honeycomb" operating system today:

"Now you can go to the browser and discover and get apps from the browser and install it to their devices directly from the Web." Everything-the phone and browser-is connected through the cloud, Yerga added.

Once users select an application they want, it will automatically be downloaded to their Android gadget over the air. Yerga showed the audience at the Googleplex in Mountain View, Calif., how easy and speedy purchasing and downloading an application can be through the Webstore.

Android Market Webstore features, mercifully, a Google search bar atop the page to help users find specific apps. For those who want to browse, Google offers application categories for games and such on the left-hand side.

The middle column is filled with tabs for top, paid and free apps. See a screenshot of the Android Market Webstore here to get an idea of the layout, as well as more information from the Android developer's blog.

Users may also send apps directly to their Android device with a few clicks, something Yerga demonstrated on stage. Users can suggest and share apps with friends through Twitter, as well as post application reviews directly to Android Market from the Web or Android handset or tablet.

Users may also sign in to the Website with their Google account and click My Market Account to see all the apps they've purchased or downloaded.

Yerga also showed off in-application purchasing, a new feature to let developers sell virtual goods and upgrades in their apps to consumers. Disney Mobile is enabling this perk through its Tap Tap Revenge for Android. This will be launched in stages, but should be live before the end of the quarter.

Google will feature more than 50 developers showing off Android smartphone and tablet apps at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona beginning Feb. 14.

More than one tech observer has noted that the Android Market Webstore mimics Apple's successful iTunes store as a storefront for apps. This comes one day after Google accused Microsoft of copying its search results.