Browsing the Android Market has never been the most pleasurable experience — even if you're sitting in front of a computer, you're forced to search, browse and download apps on your phone's tiny screen. Today, Google released a web-based Market, so you can browse, buy and share Android applications right from your computer. Here's how it works.
Apart from the excellent third-party market AppBrain, the Android Market has always been limited to your phone. The new web-based Android Market site, though, changes everything: now you have a much more user-friendly Market that you can browse through on your desktop. You can get app details, send apps straight to your Android-powered phones or tablets, manage all the apps you own, and easily share them with your friends with links. (How novel!) Check out the video above to see Google's demo of the new Market; read on for the details.
Installing Apps From the Web Market
By far the coolest feature of the new Market is the install process: you can buy and install apps right from the web interface, and they'll immediately download directly to your phone, so you'll be ready to use your newly installed app the next time you pick up your phone.
Installing an app from its Market page is simple:
- Click the "Install" or "Buy" button at the top.
- You'll be prompted to choose a device on which to install the app — if you have multiple phones tied to the same Google account, it'll show you a list of phones compatible with the app. This prompt will also list the permissions the app requires (like internet access, phone status, etc.).
- Once you confirm the installation/purchase, your phone will immediately start downloading the app.
It isn't unlike how AppBrain's installer works, for those of you that have been using AppBrain to install and manage your apps.
If you want to see a list of apps you've bought and downloaded from the Market, you can view your account page right from the web-based Market and see the full list. From here, you can also push apps you've already bought to other devices, handy if you buy a new phone or have multiple phones (or tablets) tied to the same Google account. That way, you don't have to go searching for the app again.
Browsing the Market
What's nice about having the Market on your desktop is that it's a considerably more friendly to browse. The home page of has a list of categories and sub-categories on the left side, so you can jump right to any category of apps (like Communication, Finance, or Puzzle Games) right from the front page. The larger right portion of the page shows featured apps and best selling games, with tabs at the top of the pane that let you check out the top paid and top free apps (which again, contain a section for all apps and a section specifically for games). There's also a skybar that seems to disappear and reappear at random intervals showing big logos of featured apps.
When you click on an app from the front page, it will take you to the app's page. This page is pretty reminiscent of app pages in the mobile market, just easier to read. You've got a description of the app, screenshots, videos and a few reviews on the front page, with a tab that lets you read more user reviews. The new Market also adds two other tabs to the page, that let youy view what permissions the app requires, as well as see a changelog for the most recent version — both really welcome features.
On the left side of the page, the Market gives you a list of other apps by that developer, as well as similar apps that you may like. The right side has other useful information like what version of Android it requires, how big the app is, and a QR code. You won't need the QR code to install the app, what with the awesome install process described above, but its useful for sharing the app with your friends. Of course, you can always link them directly to the app's page (or its entry in the Market, if you open the link up on a phone) and share it on Twitter with the built-in tweet button.
The search tool that Google has built in to the Market is actually pretty helpful. Every page of the Market has a small search box in the upper right-hand corner, which will auto-suggest apps as you search for them. When you hit Enter, it will take you to your search results, complete with an "advanced options" button that lets you filter items by price (free or paid), sort by popularity, or even show items compatible with a specific device you own.
The other thing Google has added to the Market is in-app purchasing. This means that you'll finally be able to buy things from within an Android app, whether it be buying extra levels for a game, buying books in an eReader app, or upgrading to an app's "pro" version directly. It's a pretty convenient feature, since before this, apps required you to go to your mobile browser or back to the Market to purchase these things. Now you can do them from the app directly.
We're pretty excited about the new Market and its features, but what do you guys think? Is the new Market a godsend, or would you just rather use AppBrain (or nothing at all?) Share your thoughts with us in the comments.