Google began supporting in-app billing for apps sold through Google Play (née Android Market) around the same time last year that Apple debuted in-app subscriptions — and now Mountain View is officially following suit. The company has announced today that it's adding comprehensive subscription support in Google Play's billing framework, letting users of enabled apps select from monthly or annual plans. It's also touting the new service as a good option not just for magazines and newspapers, but for apps of all types — it suggests that developers could use the service for new game levels, bonus music or video content, and so on.

Perhaps the most interesting part of today's announcement is that the subscriptions aren't limited to the Android apps themselves: Google is also opening a web-based API for developers to check subscription status, which means that a subscription you start on your phone could be used to enable content on a website (say, a newspaper) as well. Once subscriptions are started, users manage them — billing methods, cancellations, so forth — through Google Play itself, which makes it a convenient one-stop shop. The new functionality is available immediately on devices running Google Play 3.5 and above.