July 28, 2014

Market Index: Getting Your Android App Out There

Well, the G1 is just about upon us. Some of you already have it, courtesy of early UPS deliveries. Still others are planning on venturing to a 3G T-Mobile store tomorrow and wrenching a G1 out of the hands of terrified employees.

The next question is: where do you get the apps?

Reports have been swirling over the Android Market’s contents for the G1 launch. Some say it has around 50 apps, possibly the ADC 50 themselves. Some say there’s more like 13 apps. Some say it’s 13 apps plus MySpace.

The key for developers, though, is that the Android Market, as of 8:20am Eastern on the 21st, is not open for ordinary folk to upload their apps to. It also reportedly has two key limitations: the “kill switch” (for removing rogue programs) and lack of support for paid apps at the outset.

So…what’s a developer to do? Besides writing blog posts?

There are other markets available. While none will have an icon straight on the G1 home page, they will all be easy enough to access (e.g., through the Browser activity), and will be happy to distribute your apps for you, even ones you wish to charge for.

The two markets with confirmed app distribution are AndAppStore and SlideME. They each have a few dozen applications in their catalogs at present, with more being added continuously. You can even sign up for feeds from AndAppStore, or follow them on Twitter, to find out new items available in the catalog.

The venerable Handango has announced an Android store, though it is not linked to from the home page at this time. New Zealand-based Voeveo has hinted at interest in Android, and there are probably other markets that I haven’t heard of yet (chime in if you know of any!).

You can also distribute your applications from your own Web site. If you serve it up using the MIME type of application/vnd.android.package-archive, it will launch the install process when a G1 user clicks on the link (though, notably, this does not work in the SDK’s emulator). Of course, it’s up to you to determine who can see that link — anyone? Only those that join your site? Only those that pay you via a briefcase full of small, unmarked bills?

In the coming days and weeks, the Android Market will hopefully open its doors and will let us all evaluate it as a distribution channel. Savvy developers, though, should not limit themselves to a single channel.