Android this week: Amazon Instant Video; Android apps on Chrome OS; Hangouts calling

It’s been a long time coming and now it’s here: Amazon set its Prime Instant Video service free for Android phones. Previously, the video app was available only for Apple iOS devices and Amazon’s own Fire OS tablets and phone. There’s a bit of a catch, or hassle, however to get the software on your Android phone: You first have to install Amazon’s own Appstore app.

Fire Phone Instant Video

The strategy is a clever one by [company]Amazon[/company]. Although I don’t think it will gain much by requiring its own mobile app store on Android phones for the video service, it opens the opportunity for millions of people to experience Amazon Prime. Amazon is making the Prime service available as a free 30-day trial through this software release; that could boost Prime subscriber numbers to the tune of $99 for each new user. Sweetening the deal is 5 GB of Amazon Cloud Drive storage with photo backup.

I’m already an Amazon Prime member so the free trial isn’t of any value to me. But I’ll be adding Amazon’s Appstore to my Moto X simply to get the Prime Instant Video capability which I’ve long wanted.

Prime Instant Video is new to Android and there also some new Android apps available for Chromebooks. Only four titles have made the move — Evernote, Vine, Duolingo, and Sight Words — but I expect many more to follow. In June, [company]Google[/company] announced that it was bringing Android apps to Chrome OS as an experimental feature. Details of that experiment are now coming to light: Google created a special Android runtime for Chrome that lets the mobile apps run on Chrome OS laptops and desktops.

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That means Android app developers don’t have to modify their software to get it on Chromebooks. However, they may need to optimize their app so that it works better with trackpads and keyboards. For now, there are no plans to bring Android apps devices running the Chrome browser; this appears to be a strategy aimed at adding a wide range of software to Google’s Chrome OS devices.

Google has also been working on its communications strategy: This week, it added free voice calls to Hangouts. Google Voice users can use their number for Caller ID purposes and voicemail messages will be added to the Hangouts conversation stream. It’s a bit of a merger between Google Voice and Hangouts, something Google has been working towards for nearly two years.