RealTime IT News

Android Gets Amazon App, Enterprise Focus

The open source, mobile operating system Android is on a tear, with new apps debuting from wireless carrier T-Mobile and e-commerce giant Amazon. At the same time, reports indicate that the software is being prepped to take on BlackBerry maker Research In Motion in the mobile enterprise segment.

Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN) today released its latest mobile shopping application, Amazon App for Android, which is now available as a free download from Android Market.

The app gives users two different ways to use their smartphone camera to find and save ideas for items available for sale on Amazon.com. Shoppers can either snap a photo of an item or scan a barcode, and the app then uploads it to Amazon Remembers, the company's service for storing product images.

Amazon Remember also can match a submitted image to a product match on Amazon.com, enabling users to then make a purchase.

"Amazon App for Android users can use Amazon Remembers to easily keep track of the items they see in their daily lives and even instantly match photos and barcodes to products available at Amazon.com," Sam Hall, director of Amazon Mobile, said in a statement.

Amazon Remembers is also available on Amazon's family of shopping applications, including the Amazon App for iPhone and iPod Touch and the Amazon App for BlackBerry and includes price comparison across multiple merchants.

Amazon's not alone in creating new apps for Android, with T-Mobile, the first carrier to sell Android-powered phones in the U.S., hopping on board. T-Mobile, which offers the G1, manufactured by HTC, and the myTouch 3G, which is slated for release tomorrow, is adding iPhone-like Visual Voicemail and HotSpot Locator apps to the mix.

Continuing momentum for Android bodes well. Critics had been quick to note that release dates of handsets and apps were sparse earlier in the year and some industry observers began questioning if the new OS would deliver as a viable contender to Research In Motion and Apple's mobile platforms.

That's changing with Motorola, Samsung, Acer and HTC releasing Android models this year, and as each week brings more Android apps.

Meanwhile, it appears RIM will have more than Apple to worry about -- Android's lead developer, Google, is adding enterprise-focused features to the platform as soon as this year, according to Andy Rubin, Google's director of mobile platforms.

"Today we don't support many enterprise applications, but in the future I think enterprise will be a good focus for us," Rubin said in an interview with Reuters.

Rubin said that the added functionality for business users could come as soon as this year, but when handsets with the features go on sale will depend on smartphone makers.

The comments from Rubin come at a time when Android handsets have mainly been marketed to consumers. The forthcoming myTouch 3G from T-Mobile USA, however, does support Microsoft Exchange e-mail.

For its part, RIM just issued two updates to its own mobile platform designed for developing Web applications. Released recently are the BlackBerry Web Development Plug-in for Eclipse and the BlackBerry Plug-in for Microsoft Visual Studio version 1.2.

Spokespeople from RIM and Google did not return requests for comment by press time.