MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. (AP) — Users of phones running Google Inc.'s Android operating system are getting more ways to browse and buy apps for playing games, reading the news and other tasks.
The Internet search leader announced its Android Market Web store Wednesday. The store lets users choose apps through a Web browser and have them installed remotely to their smart phones and tablets. Previously, the Android Market was only available on Android-running devices.
Chris Yerga, director of engineering for Android cloud services, said the move is meant to give users more ways to find and install apps on their Android-running gadgets. It also gives developers more control regarding the promotion and sale of apps, he said.
Like the Android Market app, the Web store allows you to look for apps by category or browse featured or most popular ones.
The announcement of the store, at market.android.com, came at a media event for a new version of Android. Called Honeycomb, the new software is geared toward tablet computers, which are growing more popular amid Apple's launch of the iPad last April.
Also Wednesday, Yerga said Google will start supporting in-app purchases, which means that Android app developers could make it possible for users to buy virtual items such as additional levels or features within games. This is a feature Apple Inc.'s iPhone already has.
Bart Decrem, general manager of mobile for The Walt Disney Co., demonstrated that feature on the popular music game "Tap Tap Revenge." In the game, which has long been available for the iPhone, users buy songs and then tap along on the touch screen in time to the music to score points.
Decrem co-founded Tapulous Inc., which created the "Tap Tap Revenge" games and was sold to Disney in July for an undisclosed amount. He said the games have been downloaded more than 50 million times so far.
Since "Tap Tap Revenge" games are free and make money from advertising and in-game song sales, the announcement is a big deal for Decrem.
"It's a pretty big step forward in the maturing of the platform as an app platform," he said.