I’m not talking “freemium” games, like the trading card games flooding the Google Play store, or free games like Angry Birds Star Wars that are given away to promote brands. If you use a smartphone or tablet powered by Google’s open-source Android operating system, you have multiple ways to try Android apps and games without paying for them — not all of which come from Google!
Here’s a look at the newest way to try Android apps before you buy them, along with a couple of others that’ve been changed recently.
This is something that each app developer needs to turn on individually, and it was just released so there likely aren’t many who have yet. It also doesn’t affect every app, only apps which charge you a regular subscription, and which do so through the Google Play store.
For these apps, however, the way it works is simple: You can try out whatever the subscription is for, for free, and you’re not billed until the end of the trial period. You can cancel at any time before that. It’s basically how people are used to it working, except that now it also works in Google Play. The minimum trial length is seven days, too, so unscrupulous developers can’t trick you into signing up for a free 15-minute subscription.
Speaking of which …
If you’re switching to Android from iOS, you may not know that you can refund purchases that you make on Google Play. Partly because they don’t tell you up front, and partly because the refund window is only 15 minutes from the time that your download completes. Which can be especially frustrating if your game has to “download extra content” as soon as you start it. (It used to be 24 hours, but this was changed in 2010.)
You can only get a refund once, so no playing games in 15-minute increments. Having said that, if you really need a refund after the window, try asking the developer; I once got a $3 game refunded months after I purchased it, because I wrote them and said that it no longer worked.
Amazon Test Drive
This one won’t help you with Google Play apps. But many of the games and apps you know and love are also on the Amazon Appstore, where you can “Test Drive” them on your computer. If it’s been awhile since you’ve test-driven Test Drive, though, you might want to take another look at the Appstore; Amazon’s now letting you test drive the apps on your phone or tablet (a much more logical place to do so), provided it’s one of the thousands of apps that works with Test Drive and on an Android device that works with it. Certain features may not work with Test Drive yet, but you won’t download any broken apps; Amazon just won’t allow an app to be taken out for a spin if it has unsupported features.