One advantage that the Android Market has always had over Apple's App Store is that you don't need a big honkin' program (iTunes) sitting between your phone and the programs you want. Yes, both stores offer over-the-air app downloads, but iTunes is still necessary for account info, backup, app syncing, etc. Even its web-based component is nothing more than a lookup tool that still forces you to load iTunes proper to actually get the app you're interested in.
Which, by a funny coincidence, leads us to the unveiling of the web-based Android Market. It works exactly like the AM on your Android handset. Log in using your Google/Gmail account, and you can not only see what apps you've already got on your device, but you can also browse and download more apps through the cloud.
We decided to test it with the free Pandora Radio app. Click the "Install" button, and you get a popup window confirming everything on the phone the app will access (network communication, personal info, etc.). Confirm the installation, then look at your phone — hey, presto! It's downloading and installing on my HTC Incredible! (A quick check of your "All Apps" button off the main screen confirms it.)
While the web AM will never replace the on-phone version — you're more likely to have 24/7 access to your phone — it's still a nice alternative, especially if you want to view screenshots and user reviews on a slightly larger screen. Nicely done, Google, nicely done…