Thursday Google said that it plans to introduce In-app Billing for the Android Market next week. Developers are now encourage to upload their compatible apps for end-to-end testing to ensure that everything is working accordingly before the service goes live next week. The actual apps themselves won't go live until the In-app Purchasing service goes live according to Google.
But let's clarify what this means for Android consumers. Currently various apps already offer in-app purchases, but the transactions take place out of the Google realm. Pocket Legends is a great example: the MMORPG is free to install and play, but thrives off in-app purchases of virtual platinum that's used to acquire weapons, armor and additional dungeons.
And unlike the iOS version which allows users to purchase platinum with the credit card number stored in iTunes, the Android version sends the user to a secured Pocket Legends website with links to Paypal, Google Checkout and Amazon Payments. But when Google's In-app Billing launches next week, platinum purchases will be billed directly to the user's credit card stored on Google Checkout. No external website transactions will be necessary.
Of course, with the introduction of In-app Billing, Android Market users could now suffer the same financial horrors as their iOS comrades. Before Apple launched the just-released iOS 4.3 upgrade, numerous users suffered "bill shock" because their children were purchasing in-game items without the need to enter the account password more than once. That's changed since the release of the new iOS, and now consumers are required to enter the account password for each purchase. Unfortunately, it still doesn't resolve the issue for those iOS devices that can't upgrade to the new v4.3.
Google first mentioned its plans for In-app Billing in the Android Market at the Inside Mobile Conference in San Francisco back in January. The company trails behind RIM who launched an in-app purchasing structure in BlackBerry App World in September 2010. Apple was first in line, integrating in-app purchasing into the App Store way back in October 2009.
Presently it's unknown what apps will be compatible when Google's new service goes live next week.