Android apps: How to try before you buy

If your shiny new app didn't live up to your expectations, you've got 15 minutes to request a refund (i.e. an order cancellation).

After 15 minutes, any app you've paid for is yours forever. But until then, you can opt for a refund (i.e., you won't get charged for the app).
After 15 minutes, any app you've paid for is yours forever. But until then, you can opt for a refund (i.e., you won't get charged for the app). Sebastian Anthony

Buyer's remorse isn't limited to big-ticket items like cars and HDTVs. It can also strike after you shell out for a new app--even one that costs just a few bucks. If it wasn't what you thought it was, or just wasn't very good, you'll probably end up feeling the buyer's blues.

In the desktop world, many programs let you try before you buy, usually with a 14- or 30-day evaluation period. But when it comes to smartphone apps, there's no such thing.

Or is there? As CNET's Lance Whitney reported back in March, Amazon's Appstore for Android offers a "test drive" option for thousands of apps, meaning you can fiddle around with an app, right on your computer, before plunking down your hard-earned cash.

It's a pretty nifty solution, though obviously it requires you to be sitting at your PC, which is not always convenient. What's more, it's limited to folks who live in the U.S.

As it happens, however, Google's own Android Market offers a way to combat buyer's remorse: a 15-minute refund window.

Basically, if you decide within the first few minutes of downloading a new app that you don't like it, you can return to the Android Market app, hit the My Apps page, and then tap "Refund." Google will cancel the order without ever charging you for it. Here's the full scoop, straight from Google.

It's not try-before-you-buy in the traditional sense, but the net effect is the same. Keep in mind that you can get a refund only once for a selected app; if you buy it a second time, you're stuck with it. Also, not all apps are eligible.

I'll admit I didn't know this option existed, but my colleague Antuan Goodwin pointed out that Google originally offered a 24-hour window for app refunds. The recent cut to 15 minutes seems pretty severe, but I guess that's still enough time to decide if you like an app or not.

What's more, it's a courtesy Apple doesn't offer to its App Store customers. Ahem.

(Via Digital Inspiration)


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