One of the biggest drawbacks to buying apps on things like the Play Store is wondering if it does what you need it to do before you put your money on the line. AppSurfer, an India-based startup, is building a platform to alleviate this concern and give developers a web-based tool to let users test drive their apps before they buy. If this sounds familiar, it's because Amazon allows customers to do this very thing on its Appstore. The advantage here is that it would be open to the entire web and not just one market. You could even embed your fully-functional app in a website. A-like so:
Update: Embed removed because it no longer works.
The above is an example of an embed that would be possible with apps available via AppSurfer. Try it out! Click on the simulated phone screen to give it a whirl. At the moment, there are only a few developers who have shared their work to the site which, by the way, is still in need of some work. As you can see, the embed itself is a little wonky.
The company has also said that it wants to make it possible to preview apps via an HTML5 browser, which means you could have test runs on your phone or tablet, and that makes more sense in some cases than pointing and clicking with a mouse.
All that being said, the company is still getting started and we may never see this vision come to fruition. With bold ambitions like becoming "the YouTube of Android Apps," it's not uncommon to see goals fail to be met. Still, it's a neat idea, isn't it? Hey Google, why not hook these guys up? You're no stranger to purchasing companies to integrate their products. We'd love to see app trials in the web-based Play Store. Just a thought.