Attention All Android Users

Android users can now purchase apps on Amazon's Appstore for Android (collage: grasundsterne)
Android users can now purchase apps on Amazon's Appstore for Android (collage: grasundsterne)

The debut of Amazon’s Appstore for Android is well-timed. Analysts predict the Android OS will command 38% of the smartphone market, the largest share, by the end of 2011. As their numbers grow, Android device users will have greater need for organized, well-stocked app stores.

Until now, the go-to destination for Android-only apps was Google’s own Android Market, which we covered in the article: “Business Apps for Android.” Poorly organized content and the lack of prior testing for malware and phishing are major drawbacks to shopping in the Android Market; on the plus side, Google’s store already offers over 250,000 apps, many of them suitable for business use, and the selection continues to grow exponentially.

Currently, Appstore for Android has only around 4,000 apps available, but Amazon provides more and better-organized content information and it pre-screens apps for viruses. Amazon’s Appstore, by the way, is spelled in one word, as opposed to Apple’s App Store. Not that it prevented Apple from suing Amazon for trademark infringement.

At the moment, Appstore for Android is only available to customers located in the U.S., or to those customers who use a U.S.-issued credit card with a U.S. billing address. Amazon hopes to make Appstore available to international customers in the future. Verizon, Sprint, and T-Mobile customers in the U.S. can use the Appstore for Android, but AT&T does not yet support apps purchased from Amazon.

In the next pages, we take a look at the following aspects of Amazon’s new Appstore:

Discover apps you might like with Amazon's proven recommendation system (source: Amazon)
Amazon's proven recommendation system suggests apps you might like (screenshot: Appstore)

Appstore for Android: Pro and contra

Regular Amazon customers who visit the Appstore will notice the familiar and functional user interface. Amazon already organizes its other products with tabs like Bestsellers, Top Rated, and New Releases, and the Appstore makes use of these categories as well as genre tabs, such as Travel, News & Weather, and Productivity.

Amazon’s tried-and-true recommendation system – “customers who bought this item also bought” –works in the Appstore, too. Amazon suggests apps you may like based on your browsing and purchase history.

In addition, the information provided about each app is expansive. Most apps have at least four or five screenshots and extremely detailed product descriptions. Some apps also have video content, showing the app in action, and reviewers have the option to upload a video review of the app.

Appstore for Android also advertises a test drive function, which allows shoppers to try out an app before purchasing. In order to use this feature, you need to have Flash on your computer and you need to be signed in to your Amazon account. By clicking on the “Test Drive Now” button, you launch the Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud, which creates the effect that you’re running the app in real time on a simulated Android device. This feature is not yet available for all apps. Some web sites state that you can use this feature outside of the U.S. as long as you have a U.S.-based account, but we did not find this to be true.

All apps in Amazon’s Appstore are tested for malware and phishing before they become available for purchase. In contrast, Google does not pre-screen apps for the Android Market, but rather deletes an app from the store and from devices only after it has been proven to corrupt devices. While Amazon’s approach ensures security, it also slows down the acceptance process for submitted apps. It will take some time before Amazon is able to compete with Android Market in terms of selection.

Android Market offers limited product information in comparison to Appstore for Android (screenshot: Android Market)
Android Market provides fairly limited product information compared to Appstore (screenshot: Android Market)

Business apps on Amazon

Business users will find a fairly shallow selection of business apps on Amazon in comparison to the Android Market. The apps suitable for business mostly can be found under the categories Productivity, Communication, Travel, and Navigation in the tab list on the left-hand side of the screen.

Currently, there are no SAP apps available on Amazon’s Appstore. To see Android Market’s selection of SAP apps, see “Business Apps for Android.” Furthermore, when it comes to social media platforms frequently used in business, Appstore for Android offers only one suitable app, namely Twitter, while Android Market offers Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, and LinkedIn.

Here is a quick look at some useful business apps that can be found in Amazon’s Appstore:

Quickoffice Pro

This app allows users to create, view, and edit Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint files on the go. In addition, users can easily access documents in Google Docs, Dropbox, and other data storage sites in the cloud. With Quickoffice Pro, also can open and view PDF documents on their Android device.

Word, Excel, and PowerPoint files are at your fingertips with Quickoffice Pro
Word, Excel, and PowerPoint files are at your fingertips with Quickoffice Pro (screenshot: Appstore)

SwiftKey Keyboard

Not your average text predictor, SwiftKey Keyboard uses TouchType Fluency Prediction Engine to analyze exactly how you use language to more accurately predict what you will type next. The more you use SwiftKey Keyboard, the more insight it has into your specific vocabulary and language habits and the more accurate SwiftKey becomes. The app supports 9 languages.

Let your smartphone do the work for you: Accurate text prediction with SwiftKey
Put your smartphone to work: Accurate text prediction with SwiftKey (screenshot: Appstore)


This free app allows users to create text, photo, and audio notes. In a brainstorming meeting, rather than taking notes on paper, you can snap a photo of the whiteboard. The app’s search function reads words in photos, so you can easily find the note later.

Vlingo Virtual Assistant

This free app is ideal for commuters, sales teams, and employees who spend long periods of time in the car. Using voice-to-text technology, users can safely use their Android device while driving. If you have activated the “wake-up” feature, you can open the app simply by saying, “Hey Vlingo.” From there, the InCar feature lets you dictate text messages, instruct your device to call a contact, or have emails and messages read aloud. This feature requires Android 2.2 and is best used with a Bluetooth or other wired headset.

Vlingo's text-to-voice technology lets you safely talk and text while driving (source: Amazon)
Vlingo's text-to-voice technology lets you safely talk and text while driving (screenshot: Appstore)


CalenGoo synchronizes with your Android and Google calendars and sets alarms to remind you of upcoming appointments.

How to get started on Appstore for Android

First, if you do not already have an Amazon account, sign up for one here. As we already stated, in order to access the Appstore for Android, you need to open an account with a U.S.-issued credit and billing address.

You can browse for apps either via your web browser or directly on your Android device. If you want to purchase an app from your computer, you need to be signed in to your Amazon account and you need to install the Appstore for Android app on your device. Once you have installed and signed in to the Appstore app on your device, you can set up the 1-click payment method on your computer and purchase apps or download free apps immediately. These will show up automatically under the My Apps page on the Appstore app on your Android device. From there, you can install the app to your device.

To purchase an app directly from your Android device, simply open the Appstore app on your device and sign in using your Amazon log-in information. You can search for a specific app or browse by category. Purchased apps will automatically be installed on your device.