Android Market Gets PC-Side (Remote) App Purchases, In-App Purchases

Android 3.0, code-named “Honeycomb”, is perhaps the spring’s most highly anticipated product launch (if you’re not in the market for an iPad and are not a die-hard AMD fan).  

While Honeycomb will sweeten the Android experience on the cell phone side (supporting multi-core processors like the Tegra 2, for one thing), the big news is that the new OS will sport a distribution optimized for tablet form factors.  At CES 2011, we received previews of a number of Honeycomb tablets from top players.  While we can’t talk about all of those quite yet, we can tell you — they look impressive.  Just look at the previews of the Motorola Xoom , and then imagine slick peripherals, like 3D cameras, to get a taste of what Honeycomb will be dishing out.

In preparation for the incoming Honeycomb, which is expected to launch sometime next month, Google today held a special event for developers and media.  At the event, it flipped the switch on two new critical app technologies.

The first is in-app purchases.  Both Microsoft’s Windows Phone 7 and Apple’s iOS (iPad/iPhone/iPod Touch) mobile operating systems offer developers the option of using in-app purchases.  Recent reports indicate that in-app purchases are more lucrative to developers than even advertising revenue.  In-app purchases will go live “shortly” according to Google, in coming days.

The second new feature is remote app purchases.  Today the Android Marketplace’s web portal went live with the option to buy (or select free apps) online, and order them to install remotely to the phone associated with your account.  

This feature is found in Windows Phone 7 [tutorial], but is not present currently in Apple’s iOS.  The new web portal is now live, though early download attempts have been resulting in errors (which Google promises to fix, shortly).

In related Honeycomb news, at the event TouchType showed off a keyboard app for tablets.  The developer has worked with Google to deeply integrate the app, dubbed “SwiftKey” into the Honeycomb interface.  

The keyboard is optimized for thumb use, with more frequent keys (the letters) at the sides by your hands, and less frequent keys (the number pad) at the center of the screen.  The program also features predictive output, which suggest what the next word you might want to type might be — sometimes before you even type it.  TouchType claims that the software can guess “around a third of words” without you typing them.

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