Vodafone has begun the process of releasing its own version of an app store and plans to make it easier and safer for users to pay for applications.
The network says it will let developers have access to location information and will enable micro-payments directly linked to users' post- or pre-pay billing, so credit cards will no longer be necessary as is the case with Apple.
It has released a set of APIs for developers to work with to code for the internet applications and widgets, which it claims will include areas such as media and games.
A spokesperson for Vodafone told TechRadar that the application store will be released by the end of the year for phones based on Symbian S60, although how it will be packaged hasn't been set yet, given the vast range of different phones on offer.
The first countries to benefit from the internet applications will be the UK, Spain, Greece, Portugal, Germany, the Netherlands, Ireland and Italy, with more to come in the future.
App store - 'one method of delivery'
"An app store will be one method of delivery, but we'll be looking to create app stores on a local basis in each of the eight countries," confirmed the spokesperson.
He also went on to say that Vodafone is in discussions to offer the platform to 40 partner networks around the world, and that the network is 'keen to engage partners'.
However, it seems it will differ from the multitude of application stores from the likes of Apple, RIM and Nokia as it will be network dependent rather than handset specific.
But users of all kinds of phones will be able to benefit, as even those with low functionality will still be able to make use of internet portals and services developed through the APIs, confirmed the spokesperson.
He said the APIs will be open source rather than proprietary, so there will be no regulation on what can be created, although didn't comment on whether there will be an approvals process in place.
The APIs will be available from the summer through an SDK from the Joint Innovation Lab, which is designed to help developers create applications for up to a billion people thanks to the four networks involved in the project.
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