This morning Amazon is officially launching its Android App Store — a storefront for apps that will compete directly with Google’s official Android Market. We first broke the news about the impending App Store back in September and had some thorough coverage on the details in January when it opened to developer submissions. But now the store is finally going live to consumers (it will be rolling out over the course of the day, so you may not be able to access yet). And while there were leaks abound about this morning’s launch, there are still a few details that Amazon managed to keep quiet.
The biggest one: Amazon will let you ‘Test Drive’ nearly any Android application in the App Store directly from your browser using some very interesting technology (Update: Amazon says it’s available for “many applications”) . Click the ‘Test Drive’ button, and Amazon will launch an emulated instance of Android on its EC2 cloud, which you’ll be able to control directly from your browser (it uses Flash). Some features won’t work right now (like functions that take advantage of the phone’s accelerometer) but you should be able to at least get the gist of what you’re buying. Amazon was unable to give me early access to this prior to today’s launch, but I’ll update with my impressions as soon as I get to try it out.