During its Honeycomb launch event in the US, Google took the opportunity to announce something Android users have been clamouring for since the early days: a web-based front-end to the Android Market.
Unlike Apple's iOS platform, which allows users to purchase apps either directly on the device or on their desktop or laptop via iTunes, Android has always required its users to navigate a poorly laid-out on-device Android Market in order to buy apps.
Third party solutions, such as the popular AppBrain, exist to offer a web front-end, but they're not ideal - and nobody could quite work out why Google wouldn't allow its users to access the Market on their desktops for a more pleasurable buying experience.
It might be a little late for those who have been struggling with the Market since the T-Mobile G1, but that's exactly what Google has done - as was predicted yesterday. Announced towards the end of yesterday's Honeycomb launch event, the service is now live - and provides a much easier way to browse the thousands of apps available in the Market.
Users are able to browse, review, and check permissions required by any of the apps available in the Market - and buy directly on their desktops for wireless transfer to their Android handset or tablet the next time the on-device Market app checks for updates.
The interface is clean, and - unlike iTunes - will run in almost any browser and on any computer. As with the existing Market app, you'll need a Google account to use it - and payment details registered with Google Checkout if you're looking to buy any of the paid-for apps available.
With the mobile app market - which is largely dominated by Apple's App Store - expected to experience massive growth this year, Google's release couldn't come soon enough. The site is live now, for those curious to try it out.