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Google One Page to offer Android subs for newspapers and magazines

With Apple having announced its controversial subscription plans earlier this week, Google has come out with its own version, Google One Pass, for newspaper and magazine apps.

Apple's new subscription billing will be making its way into iPhone and iPad apps soon here in the UK, particularly in newspaper and magazine apps. What about Android? Google has revealed its own subscription system for publishers that will work across smart phones, tablets and the web.

It's called One Pass, and was announced yesterday by Google boss Eric Schmidt -- not at Mobile World Congress, but at the Humboldt University in Berlin. In a blog post on the Official Google Blog, Google's Lee Shirani explains how it will work.

"Readers who purchase from a One Pass publisher can access their content on tablets, smart phones and websites using a single sign-on with an email and password," writes Shirani. "Importantly, the service helps publishers authenticate existing subscribers so that readers don't have to re-subscribe in order to access their content on new devices."

You'll pay for One Pass subscriptions using the Google Checkout system, which is the one used by Google already in its Android Market store. The UK is one of the first countries to get the new service, although with the announcement in Berlin, unsurprisingly most of the publications named as starting to use One Pass are German. Popular Science magazine is also on board though, having previously been one of the whizzier iPad apps.

The timing of Google's announcement may or may not be co-incidental, given Apple's subscription news earlier this week. Publishers get a bigger revenue share from Google One Pass -- 90 per cent as opposed to 70 per cent through Apple's system. "The service also lets publishers give existing print subscribers free (or discounted) access to digital content," explains Shirani.

What does this mean for people with Android smart phones and/or tablets? Expect a steady flow of newspaper and magazine apps in the coming months, using One Pass to charge you regular subscription fees rather than larger one-off payments. In the meantime, here's a video explaining how it works.