August 14, 2013, 12:00 AM — Amazon’s foray into the App Store marketplace recently gained a new feature which could help boost its offerings. They are now making HTML5 Web Apps first class citizens by placing them right next to other Android Apps in their App Store.
A major negative for the HTML5 app camp has always been its lack of access to the app stores when it comes to distributing the software. Users would either need to fire up a web browser and navigate to the mobile site to use the app, or developers would have to simply embed the URL of the app inside a WebView of a native app which can cause some limitations to the software.
Now, Amazon is all but encouraging the practice of embedding your HTML 5 app in a native wrapper. It’s taking the practice a step further though by including some compelling features that can dramatically improve the experience of a web app for both the developer and the end user. You don’t just slap your web app into the app store, instead you download the Amazon Mobile App SDK which includes tools and features to help you be successful.
For starters, the SDK will leverage Amazon's GPU-accelerated web app runtime (Chromium) to give your HTML a speed boost during UI rendering. It also give you an In-App purchasing API to make integrating payments a breeze, something that is usually pretty difficult for mobile web apps. Once deployed, your Web App will sit right alongside native Android Apps and gain the reach of Amazon’s App store which extends across 200 countries.
And that’s not all. Amazon’s SDK also includes libraries to help you get started with Ads for further monetization, a push-messaging API, a Maps API, a Game Center API, and even an API for A/B testing portions of your app. They’ve basically provided every tool you need to completely forego the Google Play Store...except of course the massive user base.
Amazon is definitely making strides to create a solid ecosystem around Android, but making Web Apps indistinguishable from native apps in the app store may mislead customers. Unlike iOS Apps which are tightly regulated, Android apps have a reputation for being poor quality and extremely hit or miss. I can see this only furthering that perception.