Google Play vs. Amazon Appstore: Which Is Better?

google play vs amazon appstore icon   Google Play vs. Amazon Appstore: Which Is Better?Android comes with Google Play, but that isn’t the only app store you can use on Android. Android allows users to use third-party app stores, and Amazon has stepped up with a competitor of its own — the Amazon Appstore for Android. Once US-only, the Amazon Appstore is now available in nearly 200 countries around the world and is a true, global competitor to Google Play.

The Amazon Appstore for Android isn’t just a third-party app store for Android devices. It’s also the place to get apps for Amazon’s Kindle Fire tablets and, perhaps, the rumored Amazon Kindle smartphone that may be released in the future.

Convenience

There’s no getting around this — Google Play is included with your Android phone or tablet, while the Amazon Appstore must be installed from Amazon’s website. Adding the Amazon Appstore gives you a second app store with a different software-updating process. Having two app stores and two app-updating process is just less convenient than having a single one, so the Amazon Appstore has to offer compelling reasons to install and use it.

Winner: Google Play

amazon appstore login   Google Play vs. Amazon Appstore: Which Is Better?

Free Apps

To make itself attractive, the Amazon Appstore offers a “free app of the day” every day. These are paid apps available free for a single day. Grab a free app and you’ll even be able to install it for free in the future.

The free apps often vary from utilities you’d never use to little-known Android games. However, Amazon has also offered some popular apps, such as the paid versions of Cut The Rope Experiments and Fruit Ninja. Overall, it’s a mixed bag. It’s hard to argue with free apps, but this is fundamentally a way to get you opening the Amazon Appstore every day.

If you want an app, it often only costs $0.99 on Google Play or you may be able to get a free, ad-supported version. It may not be worth staking out the Amazon Appstore for, given that you may not be interested in the free app most days.

You can get notifications of the free Amazon app of the day with an app like the Free App Notifier For Amazon, which is amusingly only available on Google Play. If you’d like free apps on Google Play, try AppGratis, which offers a free app every day along with steep discounts and giveaways for freemium apps.

Winner: Amazon Appstore

amazon appstore free apps   Google Play vs. Amazon Appstore: Which Is Better?

Quantity of Apps

There’s no getting around the app selection problem. According to the most recent available reports, Google Play has over 700,000 Android apps while the Amazon Appstore has about 75,000 — much, much fewer. If you’re looking for an app, you’ll have much more selection available to you in Google Play. The Amazon Appstore offers many big-name apps, but more niche apps — perhaps the app for your bank or less-popular utilities — will likely only be available in Google Play. Given that the Amazon Appstore was only available in the US for so long, it’s likely that apps for local services in countries outside the US will likely only be available in Google Play.

The Amazon appstore doesn’t really offer any exclusive apps — you’ll find paid, ad-free versions of the first few Angry Birds games on the Amazon Appstore but not on Google Play, but that’s about it.

Winner: Google Play

App Discovery

Google Play offers recommended apps based on the apps you’ve used, frequently updated curated lists of the best Android apps, and a more modern interface. The Amazon appstore offers no app recommendations or such curated lists, leaving you to search and view the most popular free and paid apps.

Google Play’s interface is far better for browsing the store and discovering new apps, although it’s a much larger store to browse while the Amazon Appstore’s is much smaller.

Winner: Google Play

google play app discovery   Google Play vs. Amazon Appstore: Which Is Better?

Ecosystem Integration

Google Play is integrated with every popular Android device you might by, excluding the cheapest tablets and phones. Sign into an Android device and all your apps will be accessible from Google Play. They can even be automatically installed and restored onto your Android device when you factory-reset it or buy a new one.

If you opt for the Amazon Appstore, you’ll have to install the Amazon Appstore on each new Android device, sign in, and install your apps. This isn’t the most integrated experience.

However, if you have a Kindle Fire, you may prefer the Amazon Appstore anyway. Apps you purchase on the Amazon appstore can be used on both your Kindle Fire and Android smartphone, giving Amazon’s Appstore a leg up over Google Play.

kindle fire appstore   Google Play vs. Amazon Appstore: Which Is Better?

Amazon is also rumored to be working on its own Kindle smartphone. If you can see yourself using an Amazon Kindle phone in the future, purchasing apps on the Amazon Appstore may be smart — you’ll probably be able to use them on your future Kindle phone, while apps purchased on Google Play will be more difficult to install.

There’s no clear winner here: If you’re an Android user first-and-foremost, you’ll want to stay in the Google Play ecosystem. If you’re a Kindle user first and foremost, you’ll get benefits from using the Amazon Appstore.

You can root your Kindle Fire and install Google Play, but that isn’t the most convenient experience.

Winner if you prefer Android Devices: Google Play

Winner if you prefer Kindle Devices: Amazon Appstore

The Winner

Ultimately, the Amazon Appstore has some big disadvantages — less-convenient setup, far fewer available apps, and a worse interface for discovering new apps. Most people will probably prefer to use Google Play, simplifying their lives by sticking to the app store included with their Android devices.

However, the Amazon Appstore does have some advantages. Its free app of the day will appeal to bargain-conscious users who love snapping up free apps. Its integration with Amazon’s Kindle Fire will appeal to Kindle Fire owners and users dreaming of future Amazon smartphones and tablets, allowing them to use their apps across their Android and Kindle devices.

If you’re just looking for a convenient app store, you’ll be happy with Google Play. If you love grabbing free apps or prefer Amazon’s Kindle hardware, you may be better off purchasing apps on the Amazon Appstore. Prices are similar on both app stores, so that isn’t a factor.

If you do have one of the cheapest Android devices that doesn’t come with Google Play, you may want to install the Amazon Appstore and use it instead of Google Play. There are also workarounds that may allow you to install Google Play on your device, but this is much more complex. It’s much easier to install the Amazon Appstore.

If you’ve used both, what’s your take between Google Play vs Amazon Appstore? Which one do you prefer? Did we miss any advantages the Amazon Appstore has over Google Play? Leave a comment and let us know!

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24 Comments -

Chris Atkins

The reviewer may have thought that Google Play was the winner, but I have both and 95% of the time I buy my apps through the Amazon App. They have about 2 great free apps a week which makes me go there everyday. I also find the Amazon app store cleaner. When I go to Google play store it is a mess with everything they sell jammed into one screen. If you don’t have the amazon app store you may want to try it. I think you will be pleasantly surprised.

Doc

Both app stores have a Web-based storefront, as well, making it easier to browse and find apps, and both will let you buy an app and have it “pushed” to your devices.

Chris Hoffman

Thanks for the perspective. I tried to focus on the advantages each has — I suppose some people will be happier with Amazon’s interface for other reasons. Some people may also just be more comfortable purchasing things from Amazon.

Geovane M

I own a Kindle and a Nexus phone. I installed the Amazon app store on my Nexus, I actually prefer the amazon App store, the interface is simplified and the Free App of the Day is great because sometimes you find some really useful stuff.

Best thing is, once you can an app in the Amazon app store you can install it on every single device that you’re using. All you have to do is log in to your amazon account. Pretty bad ass. But Google Play wins by far with the number of Apps, but a lot of big names apps are in the Amazon store too, more than Microsoft’s pathetic attempt.

huskey69aa

I like Amazon better because I always have Amazon gift cards, so I can get all my apps for free even if they are not actually free.

Leland Whitlock

You did not include other alternate app stores like GetJar. That said I agree with your assessment mostly. You leave out one detail in that Amazon apps have to phone home regularly to continue to be usable. If you happen to be traveling with no network connection like on a plane you might not be able to use your app again until you reach your destination. To me this was the biggest negative. I loved the free apps but ultimately if I use the app a lot I will go Google Play for this one reason alone.

Chris Hoffman

Yup, I wanted to focus on the big app stores.

I had no idea that Amazon apps had to phone home — that’s pretty bad. I’ll definitely be sticking with Google Play.

Rudi Pittman

Amazon is known to modify some of their apps to check to make sure amazon appstore is installed and not run if it’s not present….and not just the free apps..I purchased grooveip from amazon because it was a dollar cheaper only to find it won’t run unless the appstore is present…….but then you have the fact google arbitrarily decides to remove apps such as adaway….f-droid.org is an open source repo that is another alternative and it’s currently where all the ad blocking software went to.

macwitty

A problem with Amazon is the country restriction – Free app is not available in Sweden. The same with a lot of paid apps. The good thing is you can use gift cards – esp good for kids who do not have a card. Bad thing with Google Play is the lack of gift cards outside USA.

Abdelmalek Dhif

Even tough am not a big fan of Amazon app but i heard that Amazon App Store provides 3X revenue compared to Google Play !!

likefunbutnot

The advantages are situational, but I generally come down on the side of using the Play Store for apps. I do own a Fire, but also I own 13 other Android devices that directly support Google’s app store.

Google Apps administration means that I have remote wipe authority over devices on my account. That’s a big point in Google’s favor, albeit only indirectly related to app purchases.

As an End user and as an Apps administrator, I can push apps out to devices from the web, even to multiple devices. This makes setting up new devices very fast and straightforward. Amazon can also install apps from the web, but only once the Amazon App store has been installed.

The Amazon App store is missing some pretty freaking critical apps. My Kindle Fire ultimately had to be rooted. I wasn’t going to have an Android device that didn’t support the licensed Gmail, Calendar and Youtube apps. Not just because they’re the “official” tools but because I did not want to have software on one device that behaved differently from all my others.

On the other hand, the Amazon App store works on crappy devices where the Play Store isn’t licensed, like those $60 tablets that show up at Big Lots and K-Mart. This for me is the biggest argument in favor of Amazon.

It’s also a good idea to comparison shop App Stores if you’re buying an expensive app. QuickOffice Pro for example is 50% off on Amazon.

Amazon kind-of supports App Gifting. Google does not. Which is great for the vanishingly small number of devices that can be assumed to have Amazon App Store support installed.

Chris

Also, when you uninstall Amazon AppStore, you can’t play any of the games that you have downloaded with it.

Basically, if you paid for an app with Amazon, you are stuck using their service. You’ll have to pay for it twice if you want to switch to Google Play.

I know Amazon offers 1 free app a day but there are google play alternative apps to this such as AppGratis. I just got Cerberus for free.

David Ward

If you travel via air and want to use your phone or tablet with apps bought with Amazon the apps do you no good because if you are not connected to the internet and amazon app store you cannot use the apps bought in Amazon app store. With Google Play Store you can use the apps not connected to the internet. You add $17 a day on a plane so you can get internet [ if even available ] those FREE apps are not so free.

Doc

There *is* a Free App of the Day app on Amazon. The only downside I experienced with Amazon App Store is that, for my Velocity Micro Cruz T301 tablet, many of the apps that were “compatible” with it would not install (the Cruz T301 has a MIPS CPU, and only Dalvik Java-based apps would work with it unless they were specifically written for it).

Giemel

Blackmart is better everything is free :D

Chris G

A big thing you are missing here for those of us who are not single is that Amazon will allow a husband and wife to install the same app on different devices tied to the same Amazon account. If one were to do that on Google since Google has so many free tools each spouse would have access to the whole Google experience (Gmail, Contacts, Google Voice etc) just to share an app. I for one love this feature since it allows me and my wife to just share a purchased app instead of buying it twice under separate accounts or opening up the whole google world tied to 1 google account onto his and her devices and the mess that entails.

k1darkknight

Actually, Google Play DOES allow you to share apps across devices, as long as you have the same gmail account tied to each one’s store. I don’t use gmail for ANYTHING except activating my android devices and having a Play Store account. You can even have multiple gmail accounts tied to the same device, you just have to switch to whichever account was used to purchase a given app.
Actually, Chris G, I only use gmail for activating devices or things that specifically require a gmail address. I never even check my mail on that account. The only place I use “Contacts” is on my phone, and I don’t use Google Voice at all.
Adding a new account and switching between them in the Play Store is actually pretty easy. You CAN switch from the app’s settings, but it’s even quicker to go to your “my apps” screen (the button at the top, that looks like a download icon). Once there, on the “All” tab, it should show your gmail address. Just tap on that, and it gives you the option to add a new account. If you’ve already done this, you also have the option to switch to any account you’ve added, just by tapping on it.
Also, I’m pretty sure that switching accounts is isolated to the Play Store, so you won’t be automatically getting stuck with all your wife’s contacts, just because you forgot to switch back, in the Store. And since the Play Store doesn’t “phone home”, all apps installed will work just fine, regardless of which account was used to purchase them, or which is currently selected in the store app.

Ian K

I looked at Amazon’s app store… Somehow I felt the app reviews on their appstore are more meaningful. For me, the ability to read the reviews is critical to making the decision about whether to buy the app or not

Jason Luck

I agree with you on this. Google Play reviews are generally short and incoherent and written by people with some unspecified complaint about the app. But in general across all stores most people give either one or five stars rather than a more realistic score.

Ian K

I suppose it is not a bad thing to have polarised scores (ie. either one or five stars) – it gives a clear indicator of whether the app is good.

Appsfire for the Apple Appstore gives a rating out of 100 which is interesting. Anything between 60 and 80 is considered “Promising”, above 80 is “Super”. Between 50 and 60 is “Hmm”.

Ian K

Some other points which you did not discuss in your review which I think are relevant about app stores. These are lessons learned from iphone/ipad users in the apple app store

– Is the appstore split by country? How easy is it to change country? Alot of Apple users lost a lot of apps when they swapped countries and lost their upgrade/update paths. With employment mobility now, it is very common for people to move to different countries and change appstores.

– How quickly do reviews get updated into the appstore? Are the reviews accessible globally or by country/location?

– Buying and using ebook readers and ebooks. What is Google Play’s policy on ebooks? I think Amazon exited from selling ebooks on iOS because Apple required them to pay royalties to Apple.

Caroline W

Hi, from your review it’s not making me want to rush out and get the Amazon app. The best use I have found regarding Amazon is the Kindle Reader with the ability to get e-books cheaply or for free. If there was a huge variety of apps – not just Angry Birds – I’d consider a look-in but as I said, it’s not sounding too appealing :)

Aivee S

I can’t get any app from amazon due to the location restrictions so…. Google Play it is.

Richard Lloyd

The issue here is choice – you really want a device that lets you install multiple stores so you can gain benefits from each of them. Unless you are willing to root and/or ROM a Kindle Fire device, I’d avoid them for their lack of multiple stores.

Bad points about the Amazon Appstore: Clunky horizontal scrolling interface that’s hard to nav, too regularly asks for your username/pass, sends purchase e-mail to you even if it’s a free app, must have Appstore app installed to run any downloaded app, list of my apps seem to be in alpha order only – date order would be much better.

Amazon annoyingly premieres everything in the US first (Kindle Fire tablets, Amazon Appstore app, Free App of the Day and the Web version of the Appstore) and then waits a full *year* before releasing them outside the US! This is completely and utterly unaceptable and made the first Kindle Fire tablet to hit UK shores a bit of a joke because its specs were a year out of date.

Now the XHD range has been announced, will Amazon bother to release it in the UK before Xmas 2013? Mind you, where’s Google Chromecast for UK users? Big hoo-hah in UK press when it had its US-only launch and a deathly silence from the same in the months afterwards!