Google’s Honeycomb: In-App Billing Comes To Market [With Slides]

Being second-up in the press announcement stakes after Apple’s launch of The Daily was always going to be a challenge for Google (NSDQ: GOOG), which was hosting its own Android event today around its newest Android OS, 3.0, “Honeycomb.” Did it rise to the occasion?

Only in parts. The first section of the presentation was given over to a walk-through of the new features that we will see in Honeycomb, such as video calling, button-less touch browsing, and lots of 3D effects.

Android, originally used only in smartphones, is now being billed as a tablet-friendly OS. Although Google has talked about Android as something that can work in a number of connected devices, it appears that Honeycomb will be a tablet-only OS and not intended for phones (as confirmed by PCMag). A lot of Honeycomb’s features, however, had already been covered around CES, where there were a number of tablets previewed, such as the upcoming Motorola (NYSE: MOT) Xoom, that would be running on the platform.

Perhaps to make sure that Google had a content partner to weigh in against Apple’s earlier announcement with News Corp (NSDQ: NWS). for The Daily, Google brought out two: Louis Gump, VP of mobile for CNN; and Bart Decrem, SVP and GM of mobile for Disney (NYSE: DIS).

The two demonstrated apps that were meant to show off the video playing and recording features of the new edition of Android. CNN will be launching a new feature in their Android/Honeycomb app: the iReport user-generated video portal will be, for the first time, part of CNN’s mobile app.

Meanwhile, Disney will finally be bringing Tapulous to Android (which was demonstrated on a handset rather than a tablet); other Disney apps include Radio Disney and Jelly Car.

“CNN is known as a video platform,” said Gump. “That combination of the video plus reporting is powerful as people use tablets we want to be with them around the world.”

Finally Google moved on to what may have been one of the more important news items today, it will be introducing in-app billing into its service. This will be able to be used for different services such as virtual goods, unlocking features, and premium versions of an app.

This part of Google’s presentation set it apart from Apple (NSDQ: AAPL), which chose not to talk about the wider issue of in-app billing for subscriptions in its presentation today, although it has been an issue for Apple of late.

Not clear yet whether Google’s in-app billing feature will work for recurring payments, such as subscriptions, but this is still a big step for Android, which has been criticised, even by Google itself, as being hard to monetise, particularly for developers. Billing will work in multiple currencies, wherever the Market is available.

Still want more? Here’s a slideshow highlighting some of the new features you can find in Honeycomb: