Before May 2022, picking up the latest movies, captivating e-books, and exciting music on Amazon was as easy as grabbing a new pair of shoes or a comforter set. The digital and physical shopping worlds blended seamlessly. However, you’ll notice that things have since changed. While everyday items that need a delivery truck are still just a click away in Amazon’s apps, buying digital content requires a little extra work. Here’s your roadmap to help you purchase Amazon’s digital content on your Android device.
Why Amazon removed payment options for digital goods from its Android apps
Amazon’s Android apps are available through the Google Play Store, which is subject to certain rules. Among them is a policy that forces developers to use Google’s payment methods only, at least if they want to sell in-app subscriptions or other digital goods. For a long time, Google didn’t enforce this rule for digital goods, particularly to the benefit of big companies like Amazon, Spotify, Netflix, and more.
The search behemoth is cracking down on the practice, though. From June 2022, all developers are prohibited from selling digital content using their own payment methods when they want to distribute their apps through the Play Store, without any exceptions.
Amazon could have opted to switch to the Play Store for payments. However, Google’s payment processing comes with an extra fee that can be up to 30% of the cost of a purchase for Amazon. Rather than share its revenue with Google (and potentially raise prices for customers), Amazon stopped using its apps to sell digital goods.
So, you can’t buy e-books or digital music from the Amazon Shopping app anymore, but the implications are reaching further. Amazon also removed its digital stores from Kindle e-readers, Prime Video, Audible, and Amazon Music on Android, demoting them to content consumption apps.
How to bring back the option to purchase digital content to most Amazon apps on Android
Due to the open nature of Android, no one can stop you from installing another app store other than the Play Store on your phone, and this is something that Amazon leverages. It offers its own Amazon App Store as an alternative to the Play Store, and in it, it distributes versions of its apps that come with the full store functionality (except Amazon Music). Here’s how to get started with it:
- Uninstall the Amazon apps currently installed on your phone, like Kindle, Audible, Amazon Shopping, Prime Video, and Amazon Music. Your library is backed up to the cloud, so you won’t lose your purchases.
- Download the Amazon App Store from its website.
- When your browser warns you that the file might be harmful, select Download anyway.
- Open the file from your notification shade.
- A message may pop up saying that your browser isn’t allowed to install apps from unknown sources. Tap the Settings option and turn on Allow app installs from the next screen.
- Click the Install button and then select Open once it’s done.
- Log in with your Amazon account via the Already an Amazon customer sign-in button.
- Use the search field at the top of the app to find the Amazon apps you want to use, such as Audible, Kindle for Android, or Prime Video, and install them again.
- A prompt asks you to allow Amazon to install apps on your phone. Follow the instructions to install the first app.
While it’s handy to get Amazon’s digital stores back in most of its Android apps, this solution comes at the expense of a bit of your battery life. The Amazon App Store offers the same functionality as the Play Store, so it constantly runs in the background while it’s on the lookout for app updates. To keep your Amazon apps up to date, keep the Amazon App Store installed.
There is also the caveat that the Amazon Shopping app isn’t available through the Amazon App Store. This means there is no way back for the Shopping app, which you can only get from the Play Store. You will have to do without purchasing digital goods through it. At least you can still use it to get regular physical purchases like you always could.
How to use your browser to purchase digital content from Amazon
If you prefer not to install the Amazon App Store, use the browser on your Android phone to purchase digital products from the shopping giant. To do that, visit amazon.com, log in to your account, and look for the content you’re interested in using the on-site search. Once you’ve acquired your e-book, audiobook, music clip, or film from the website, head to the respective Amazon app to enjoy your new purchase. It automatically shows up there after a short moment.
If you’d like a direct link to the various dedicated Amazon stores, here’s where you’ll need to visit:
Amazon Music is available at amazon.com/music, but you won’t find the dedicated MP3 store. Instead, it’s a landing page for the Amazon Music subscription.
You can bypass this blocker by searching for a music artist, song, or album on amazon.com in your mobile browser. Plus, since you can’t make digital purchases using the Amazon Music app downloaded from the Amazon App Store (in the method mentioned above), this is your only option for purchasing music on your Android device. Here’s how to do it:
- Go to the Amazon website (amazon.com) in your favorite mobile browser and use the search bar to search for a music artist, song, or album.
- When you find the song or album you want to purchase, tap it to open the description page.
- Look for Purchase Options under the Play button. Amazon tries to get you to subscribe to its Music Unlimited services, but you’ll also see an option to purchase the item outright.
- Tap the Buy option, and you’re taken to a confirmation page where you can finalize your purchase.
- To select individual songs in albums, tap the three dots to the right and select Buy MP3 song.
- Tap the Buy button on the confirmation page to complete your purchase using your default payment method on Amazon.
- Your purchase is saved in your music library.
How to access content available to you as part of a subscription
If you rarely purchase books, audiobooks, or films and movies because you have a subscription to the relevant platform, not too much will have changed for you. The TV shows and movies that are available to you via your Amazon Prime subscription are still visible and accessible in the Prime Video app. The same goes for Kindle Unlimited, the Audible subscription, and the Amazon Music service.
The Prime Video app from the Play Store has become better now that purchase options have been removed from it. When searching for things to watch using the search function in the app, you won’t come across paid content anymore. Everything you see in the Play Store version of the app is content included with the Amazon Prime subscription.
It’s easy enough to work around Amazon’s in-app purchase problem
Navigating Amazon’s new conditions for purchasing digital content on Android seems complex, but as you can see, it’s far less daunting. You’ll need to go through a few additional steps, which are pretty straightforward. The good news is that if you subscribe to Amazon Prime, Kindle Unlimited, Audible, or Amazon Music, these services will mostly stay the same for you. Ultimately, adapting to these changes ensures you can still enjoy all the digital goodies you love from Amazon while maintaining access to your favorite products on your Android device.