Amazon Is Providing Web-based App Test Drives

When Google first launched the Android Market it had a 24 hour refund policy, which meant that you could try out an app for a whole day, and if you decided you didn’t like it, you could get a refund. Game developers didn’t like this policy as it enabled people to play their games for free for a day, so Google changed the policy so that now one can only get a refund within 15 minutes of purchasing an app. The change to the policy seems drastic, but Google’s 15 minutes to refund is more than Apple’s, which has no refund policy.

Last week Amazon launched their Android Appstore and like Apple, they do not provide refunds. The lack of refunds, coupled with the one-click purchasing from Amazon means you need to be careful to not accidentally purchase apps. While Amazon doesn’t have a refund policy, it is providing a way to try certain apps before you buy them.

You can “test drive” a select number of apps in a web browser. The app runs in a virtual machine running Android 2.2.1, which is hosted in Amazon’s Elastic Compute (EC2) environment. You can run an app for up to thirty minutes, and if you wish to do so, you can jump to the Home screen and browse through the virtual device. Certain hardware functions like the camera and GPS are not available, and the virtual machine currently does not accept any input.

Right now you can only test drive twenty apps that are being sold by Amazon. When you open an app entry in the web version of the Amazon Appstore, you will see a Test Drive button for apps that Amazon is providing the capability.