Amazon Android Apps Get Try-Before-You-Buy Feature
The myriad of Android apps cover nearly every topic, need and function, and yet buying an app is still a bit of a gamble. Amazon.com's new Android app store aims to change all that by letting potential buyers use an app before buying.
Even though there are product descriptions and user reviews, useless or underpowered apps can still hide behind 4- and 5-star ratings. Amazon's new Test Drive feature is much more useful for figuring out if an app has what you need.
Test Drive is built into the Amazon AppStore and allows users to try out Android apps in their browser (the mouse controls obviously substitute for finger taps). This isn't just a Flash-based recreation of the app, either. Amazon has included a full-fledged Android virtual machine that runs exactly like an Android phone and operates the original app itself. In fact, the onscreen phone allows for installing and deleting apps, viewing photo galleries, playing music and surfing the web (which gets a little meta, considering you are surfing the web on a virtual web browser on a virtual phone that runs in a real web browser using the Internet).
According to Amazon: "When you click on the simulated phone using your mouse, we send those inputs over the Internet to the app running on Amazon EC2 — just like your mobile device would send a finger tap to the app. Our servers then send the video and audio output from the app back to your computer. All this happens in real time, allowing you to explore the features of the app as if it were running on your mobile device."
Whether you want an Android phone on your computer or just want to see if that app is really the $1.99 you'll have to spend for it, Test Drive fills a genuine need in the growing Android app ecosystem. Unfortunately, Test Drive doesn't work with all Android apps, but Amazon has hundreds of the most popular apps that are compatible.