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Android Market – the good, the bad and the ugly

Android Market in many ways is a great feature of the Android platform allowing users to download apps from a vast repository and taking care of the issues that would make it difficult for small-time developers to release their apps in any other way. I also think the Android Licensing system is a good move forward and not actually that hard to implement.

However there are some short-comings of the Market noted on many a blog. Lets analyse Android Market as an app – it provides basic functionality, but that’s not all mobile apps are about; there needs to be a compelling user experience and that seems to be lacking from the Market. Considering the amount of time some developers spend developing high quality apps, it is a shame Google are not treating the Android Market in the same manner.

Some of the issues I have noted with the Android Market:

  • Lack of curation of clearly non-functional and very poor quality apps – while I wouldn’t like to see censorship on grounds of opinion, it is obvious when an app clearly doesn’t work and they should be removed.
  • Categorisation only one level deep – there is so much diversity in the apps, why should they only have one tier of categorisation? I’d much prefer a system which has sub-categories as it would enable users to be in more control of the type of apps they are looking for.
  • No quirky features to promote apps, such as a button to select a random app
  • No tagging of apps with keywords
  • App search facility provides poor results – Google are the masters of the search experience, so why does the search largely order results by app name, rather than keyword and description text? Perhaps there could be different search ordering modes available – by price, by keyword, by description etc…
  • Very basic information available about apps – how about some rating / reviewing facility which would give users more information about the quality of the apps and the features they provide, and more of a community feel with forums or something similar.

Clearly there could be a lot more to the Android Market, though I understand apps intended for a mobile device turn users off if they are too complicated. An improved Android Market means improved downloads of apps which is better for users, device manufacturers, developers, and Android as a platform in general.

It is important to note that poor paid app sales are probably not solely due to the quality of the Android Market, there are also cultural issues such as the recession and the general marketing strategy used. But developers are now calling for Google to do more with the Android Market as any improvements will inevitably be a boost to the Android based economy.

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