Today's Android event had just one real announcement; the Android Marketplace webstore (which is Live at market.android.com). The rest of it was just a Honeycomb/Motorola Xoom show-and-tell, with various Google-partners coming on stage and showing their apps running on the Honeycomb platform. As such, this article covers the details of the Android Marketplace webstore and other updates first, followed by impressions gathered during the Honeycomb/Xoom hands-on.

So yes, the main announcement today is the fact that Android Marketplace is now going places! Google was talking about cloud services, how it is playing an increasingly important role in the Android eco-system and how smartphones, tablets and other mobile devices would benefit from cloud service integration. Nothing new or particularly exciting here, except that Andy Rubin did drop hints of such integration coming over to other Google platforms (such as Google TV) some time in the future.

An app purchase on the Android Marketplace web store gets pushed to the Nexus S

Back to the Android Marketplace; it is now possible for users to browse the Android Marketplace from the comfort and convenience of their desktop browsers, make app purchases in the browser and have the app pushed to their Android mobile device. It is as simple as that in practice as it is in idea. If the application you are planning on purchasing is free, you can actually get through with the process in a single click. Purchasing a paid app would require the additional step of entering your payment information. During the demo, an app purchase made in the browser was pushed to the Nexus S phone within a couple of seconds. Apart from purchases, users can also share apps from the webstore. Again, nothing revolutionary, but effective in it's simplicity and execution.

Disney Mobile demonstrating in-app purchases in Tap Tap Revenge 4

It's possible to share applications via the Android Marketplace web store (Twitter example shown here)

But the Android Marketplace updates weren't just end-user oriented. Google realizes the importance of developer support and keeping developers happy will certainly help Android maintain its momentum forward. To this effect, with the introduction of the web store, Google has given the developers more control over how they can promote and monetize their applications. Developers can make use of high-resolution banners and youtube video links on their store front. Plus, the web store will show other apps the same developer has to offer, thereby making an attempt to reduce the bounce rate. Updates have also been made to the payment system with more leeway given to the developer on buyer currency support. Unlike the previous set-by-Google rates, developers can explicitly choose what rate they may want to charge foreign currencies, although they can fall back to the default Google rates if they choose to do so. This feature is going to roll-out gradually, with initial support for the US dollar only. Another big update on the monetization front is the support for in-app purchases. The developers can now sell 'packs', 'updates', 'maps' and other add-ons to their application, without the user having to leave the app. This will certainly boost app development for Android and provide developers the incentive to continue supporting and upgrading their existing applications for longer periods. Disney Mobile was at the event to show off some of the applications they have ported over for to Android and their 'Tap Tap Revenge' application seemed to make good use of the in-app purchase system, wherein the user can purchase additional soundtracks from within the game.

Nothing particularly exciting here, but all in all, worthy updates to the Android eco-system.

Honeycomb and Xoom...
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  • banvetor - Thursday, February 03, 2011 - link

    I'm sorry, but this does not tell me much... I was really hoping for Android 3.0 having the usability improvements that apparently it does, but I would very much like it on my smartphone, even because I don't plan on buying a tablet anytime soon.

    Anyway, I was even considering a Nexus S right now with the hope that it would soon be updated to 3.0, and have all the improvements... but I guess I will now wait for Google's confirmation of what's in fact coming to smartphones!

    One final note: it just seems weird that they will "forever" keep smartphones on 2.x and tablets on 3.x... just a thought.
    Reply
  • ET - Thursday, February 03, 2011 - link

    My guess is that they'll merge them in version 4. I don't expect any current (or near future) phone to ever get more than 2.x. But that's just my guess. As you say, it's a good idea to wait for announcements of future phone OS versions, if that's what's holding you from buying a phone. I'll probably buy one anyway and stay behind on 2.2. Reply
  • BigToque - Thursday, February 03, 2011 - link

    I think it would be silly to keep the two separate. Both the smartphones and tablets are sufficiently similar.

    I think a good approach is to possibly market two different versions of the same thing and just change how the system is tuned. (Similar to the way Windows works with the desktop/server versions of the OS)
    Reply
  • wolfman3k5 - Wednesday, February 02, 2011 - link

    This is just the beginning, but Google is branching out into the pharmaceutical and health care industries as well. Google has just acquired the cosmetology division of Procter & Gamble, dubbed "Pharma One", which specializes in hair growth products. This is just as small step in a new direction. Right now Google is only probing, like they always do. I'm bringing this up because I know that Anand has been looking for a decent hair growth product, and now here it is: it's called OneShu by Pharma One which is now owned by Google. From what I have read, OneShu grows thick - long lasting new hair, and there is also an APP now for Android that tracks hair growth. Reply
  • bplewis24 - Thursday, February 03, 2011 - link

    lol... Reply
  • Shadowmaster625 - Thursday, February 03, 2011 - link

    Why is it such a pita to get offline map browsing. It's like they go out of their way to prevent you from accessing data that is already stored on your own device. On a windows notebook I can get it to work for a while. But eventually it just "decides" on its own to stop working, even though the 2 gigs of map data is still taking up space on my hard drive. Reply
  • xype - Thursday, February 03, 2011 - link

    Scout's promise, the next version will be awesome!

    It's ugly and it's chaotic and it's been pushed out the door way too fast way too often. Apart from the geekier crowd (who'll either hate or love it with a passion), it will be interesting to see how Android will develop overall.

    Somehow I have the feeling that Android will be an iOS Killer™ in the same way that a multitude of random MP3 players were an iPod Killer™.
    Reply
  • bplewis24 - Thursday, February 03, 2011 - link

    What planet were you living on before you arrived here yesterday? Reply
  • Griswold - Thursday, February 03, 2011 - link

    It must have been Planet of the Fools. Reply
  • B3an - Thursday, February 03, 2011 - link

    Android is now the biggest selling phone OS in the world after it recently overtook Symbian, the previous king. It overtook iOS some time ago.
    And it's sales increase is still happening faster than ever, within the next 18 months it will completely dominate iOS.
    Reply

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