Amazon's bespoke version of the Android app store is now available here in the UK, giving you a free app every day that normally you'd have to pay for. Today it's the ad-free version of Angry Birds, and tomorrow you'll get perennial corpse-chomping favourite Plants vs Zombies for absolutely nothing.
The Amazon Appstore is a free app you download to your Android device from Amazon's site -- it sits on your home screen just like the Google Play store. In order to install apps from it, you have to go into Settings and tick 'Allow installation of non-Market applications' (it's either in Security or Applications, under Unknown sources).
Amazon offers this edited version of the app store because it wants a slice of the app market and it thinks Apple's walled garden approach is the way to win it. It also makes its own Android tablet, the Kindle Fire, which isn't yet available in the UK -- could this be a precursor to it coming here?
The standard Android very open and inexpensive to develop for, but it can be off-putting for first-time users., with tonnes of ripped-off games, stupid wallpapers and serious malware. Google doesn't vet every app that goes up, rather relying on user reports and its own scanning system to keep the place as safe as possible. That has the wonderful benefit of making
Amazon's Appstore has Android developers submit their apps for evaluation and approval, so in theory you have a little more peace of mind downloading something from there rather than the Google Play store. Amazon also ties its back-end Web Services in, to make life easier for developers and take a bigger cut of your app money.
Speaking of your money, the Appstore also ties into your Amazon account, meaning you can use its 1-Click payment gubbins, and you get personalised recommendations (read: even more emails).
The Kindle Fire has been available in the US for yonks, but Amazon has held it back from the UK because it didn't have the agreements in place to make its movie and music services workable here. The point of the Kindle Fire is that it's a one-stop shop for all your entertainment, so the launch of the Appstore here in the UK is a great omen for a Fire release in the very near future.
Amazon needs to get a hurry on -- theis already here and selling like hot cakes, thanks to its classy stylings, super-powered chip and bargain-basement price. Amazon will need to match the Nexus 7's sub-£200 price tag if it's to claw back any of the tablet market for itself.
In the meantime, download the Appstore here -- even if you delete it the day after tomorrow you'll still have two really good Android games for nothing. Let me know whether it fires your enthusiasm in the comments below, or over on our fired-up Facebook page.