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Thursday, February 3, 2011

Web-based Android Market goes live!

Early last year, at their annual developers conference, Google briefly teased a web-based version of the Android Market that would allow browsing, searching, and installing of apps right from the desktop. They said it was coming soon, but nothing was ever said about it. That all changed yesterday when the new Market website finally went live.

The new webstore can be found at market.android.com and allows for detailed searching, browsing by category, sorting search results by popularity, and instant, over-the-air installs. Simply log into your Google Account, and you're good to go. Pressing the Install button on a given app presents you with the option to choose which device you want it to be installed on (assuming you have more than one), and then it instantly begins to download and install on your phone.

Market links are context aware, too, so if someone emails you a link to a cool app, for example, and you open it on your desktop, it will take you to the Market website. If you open the same link on your phone, it will open the Market app. If you decide to purchase an app from the webstore, you are presented with the same payment options you have on your phone, including Google Checkout, and carrier billing if it's available.

You can also click "My Market Account" across the top and get a list of all the various installed and purchased apps on your device. This page will also list whether apps were free, purchased, or purchased then refunded.

To check out the new Market yourself, simply visit the Market website and sign in using the same Google Account that's tied to your Android device. Once signed in, you can begin installing apps right away.

I've seriously been anxiously waiting for this ever since it was first shown off months ago. Chrome to Phone demonstrated what over-the-air pushing can do, and being able to install apps without ever touching your phone is really cool. It also makes sharing apps with friends much easier, since you can just send them a link. Previously, the Market website was so bad that it didn't even allow searching, let alone direct linking and installing. I'd love to see more improvements made, like the ability to uninstall apps from the website, or RSS feeds for individual developers so I can see when they release something new, but those are just small additions. Overall, this is a huge step forward for the Market and for Android as a whole.

I really don't ever search the Market. To be honest, I kind of try to avoid it. But, perhaps it's because it was just so cumbersome. If I am going to be doing any searching, I'll definitely be doing it from the website. I bet the Market will see a dramatic increase in use with all the new changes.

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