Google's in-app payment platform due next week

Not willing to cede the subscriptions market to Apple just yet, Google has announced the impending introduction of an official in-app billing platform for its Android operating system.

According to Google's Eric Chu, the system - which will allow developers to charge for content directly within applications they have published, with all the management taken care of by Google's Market platform - is due to go live next week, with developers asked to start testing the feature now.

"You can now upload your apps to the Developer Console, create a catalog (sic) of in-app products, and set prices for them," announced Chu. "You can then set up accounts to test in-app purchases. During these test transactions, the In-app Billing service interacts with your app exactly as it will for actual users and live transactions."

While developers have full access to the platform, there is one thing awaiting the official launch: applications created that take advantage of the in-app payments feature won't be able to go live on Android Market until the feature launches to end-users next week.

The addition of an in-app purchasing platform gives Google the same weapons as Apple in the battle to gain market share with publishers and content creators. Newspaper and magazine publishers will be able to sell individual issues and subscriptions, games developers can sell add-on level packs and additional weapons, and general app developers can unlock additional content and features based on a pay-for-what-you-need model.

Whether the new facilities will tempt publishers like News International, which has previously concentrated solely on Apple's iOS platform, across to Android remains to be seen.