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Amazon Appstore update now lets you test drive apps before buying

May 23, 2012

I have to admit that, when Amazon launched its own store for Android apps, I was among those who asked why Amazon created its own app store. It all became clearer a while later, when Jeff Bezos’ company launched its own Android-powered device, the Kindle Fire.

Helped by the amazing popularity of the Fire, the Amazon Appstore managed to survive alongside Google Play and other third-party stores, and more so, to thrive. Continuing to slowly build up its Appstore, Amazon recently introduced a new feature, which might just give it an edge over Google Play – the platform now lets you “test drive” an app before you buy it.

The new feature has arrived along with an update to the Appstore. According to Amazon, the Test Drive feature is on a beta roll-out on selected Android phones.

If you have the Amazon Appstore app running on your Android phone, you need to update to the latest version (to do so, follow the Source 1 link after this article using your Android phone). Make sure that you are updating to version 2.6.53 or higher. Once you are up to date, the moment you’ll check an Android app on Amazon’s store, you’ll be able to see the “Test Drive” button.

The interesting part about this “Test Drive” feature is that you won’t have to download anything on your Android phone. Amazon explained how this works as follows (hint, the cloud!):

Amazon brings the Test Drive experience to and Android phones using the massive server fleet that comprises the Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2), a web service that provides on-demand compute capacity in the cloud for developers.  When customers click the Test Drive button, we launch a copy of the app on EC2. As customers interact with the app, we send those inputs over the phone’s WiFi Internet connection to the app running on Amazon EC2.  Our servers then send the video and audio output from the app back to the customer’s computer or phone. All this happens in real time, allowing customers to explore the features of the app as if it were running locally on their mobile device.

All said, it will be interesting to see how Google will respond to this new feature rolled out on the Amazon Appstore. Will it follow suit and find a way for us to test apps from Google Play? Is Google even bothered by the existence  of  the Amazon Appstore at all?