Over the last two weeks, Amazon has launched two different products geared at providing service to Android users who were experiencing what they considered to be a lack in functionality. There’s the Amazon App Store, which has provided users with the ability to shop for apps. This is a particularly unique concept, in that users can choose to search for the cheapest price for their apps, not to mention enjoy the “free app of the day”. Additionally, the Amazon Cloud Player, being both the evolution of the Amazon music store and the preventative competition to products that have been rumored to be in development by Google and Apple, has been in the wild for about a week. These two products have brought both frowns and smiles to the faces of many users since their respective release dates, I can’t help but feel that these products have not been designed in the best interest of the user.
Let’s look at the App Store. I, for one, fully support the concept, and happily check the app every day for the next free app. However, I can’t help but shake that nagging feeling that it’s unsafe to recommend to friends and family who may be less tech savvy. Installing the App Store requires you to leave the ability to install apps from unknown sources checked. Since this is the primary way that Android devices have been infected with malware in the past, I’m generally opposed to telling the average user to leave it unchecked, and Amazon’s instructions do not include “uncheck that box”. Granted, this isn’t explicitly Amazon’s fault, but it’s not exactly fair to expect Google to add the Amazon App Store to the Android Market. While I was ready to criticize the initial installation process of the App Store as complicated, it pales in comparison to setting up and actually using the Cloud Drive. It’s not enough to simply install the app, buy some songs and go. No, that would be simple, elegant, and intuitive. Instead, you need to go to your computer, login to the Cloud Drive, download an uploader (a phrase that nauseated me just to say out loud), and THEN you will be able to access music from Amazon’s cloud. A friend of mine could not have said it better when he uttered “What is this, iTunes?” after going through the experience. With each of these services it feels like the services were designed with a terrific function in mind, but very little concern for the user experience.
After the installation or setup procedures, these services are actually really useful. 5 GB of cloud music and storage for free? Who wouldn’t want that? Free apps every day? Awesome, right? I think these services, while not completely ready for human consumption, will serve a very indirect yet necessary function. Amazon’s rapid increase in popularity will send a very clear message to Google to make sure that their core products and services remain competitive. Amazon’s services are cool, albeit a little quirky, but now I am truly curious to see how Google responds with their own Music and Market products. Step it up, Google, your fans are waiting.