Google Announces In-App Billing Ready for Testing
Google has announced that its in-app billing platform is ready for testing, in advance of next week’s public launch. The system allows Android developers to sell items within their mobile applications, which mobile users can then purchase using Google Checkout. Popular use cases for this system include selling virtual goods, like those found in games, plus upgrades, subscriptions and any other sort of digital content.
Developers can now upload their apps for testing, says Google, but won’t be able to publish them until next week.
Developers who upload their about now to the Developer Console can begin end-to-end testing using in-app billing, Google noted in a post on the Android Developers blog. They can now create a catalog of in-app products and set pricing, then test buying the items using in-app purchases and test accounts.
The system will work exactly the same during this test phase as it will when it rolls out to users next week for live transactions.
Google has also published extensive guides that explain how to administer in-app billing, provide refunds, set up test accounts and test the in-app billing system. In addition, it has provided security guidelines and best practices which it recommends developers follow when implementing the service within their apps.
There are a few caveats to using the new service, notes Google in its online documentation. It only works on Android versions 1.6 and higher, it requires developers to have a Google Checkout Merchant account, it’s only available for apps published in the Android Market and it can only be used for selling digital content, not physical goods, personal services or anything requiring personal delivery.
As business models are shifting away from paid content, the launch of officially supported in-app purchases and billing will help Android developers better monetize their content. In some cases, developers may end up making more money than with paid applications. For example, at this week’s CTIA conference in Orlando, Florida, Get Jar’s CMO Patrick Mork noted during a panel on app stores how one well-known game development shop increased revenue by 4-5 times after implementing virtual goods.
Although there have been third-party alternatives for implementing such systems for some time from providers like Boku and Zong among others, many developers have been waiting for the official platform to launch instead.
Google didn’t specify which day next week the new system would go live, but some reports say it will be on Tuesday.