It felt like a sneaking hack because, for years, you could purchase a Kindle book on the Amazon app on an Android gadget when you couldn’t do the same thing on an iOS one.
When attempting to buy eBooks on the Amazon app on Android, you’re headed to a new screen explaining why the purchasing choice is gone.
If you update the app, you’ll notice a similar note as to what you see on an iOS device that says purchasing digital products on the app is unavailable.
Amazon pulled digital book purchasing support from iOS devices back in 2011. The goal was to avoid the “tax” Apple’s App Store imposes on digital goods. Unfortunately, Comixology, the comic book app, lost the ability in 2014, not long after Amazon received it.
It was and continues to be a profoundly annoying byproduct of the Apple App Store ecosystem. If you see a book you want to read and hit the switch to buy it, you get taken into the Amazon app. Then you have to immediately go back to the browser, navigate to Amazon, and buy the book thru that route. Not impossible — just frustrating.
By comparison, buying content on an Android device felt like getting away with something. While Google desired apps to use Google’s billing system for buying digital goods, it rarely actually enforced the expectation.
But Google is currently cracking down on app developers skirting around its rules. Starting June 1st, Google said it would remove apps that didn’t comply with its billing system rules. In addition, Amazon ended support for buying Audible audiobooks via the Android app on April 1st, 2022, and competitor Barnes & Noble ended support for purchasing digital books via its app on April 4th.
Oddly, in March, Google announced a pilot program to let app developers use their billing systems. The pilot program includes Spotify but not Amazon.
That pilot program is likely due to Google’s legal battle with Epic Games. The billing system crackdown may not help Google’s case, but much of Epic’s fight with Google is over the inconsistency with which it treats partners. Treating everyone the same, even if it makes the user experience worse, is still treating everyone the same.