November 22, 2014

FixIt!: the Market

marketThe competition to dominate the smart-phone market worldwide is played between Nokia/Symbian, RIM/Blackberry, Apple/iPhone, Microsoft/Windows Mobile and at the bottom of the table: Android (but it should better soon). As we all know, there is a good bunch of Android devices coming up in Q4 to complete the already good but limited choices we have now. This means the situation should improve once most of the operators around the world have a large range of devices to choose from. It is also undeniable that the Google brand will help Android to get more market shares, but Google also needs to get a better app store.

The reference point for all app stores has been set by Apple, even if their store is not perfect. Their approval process is very random and slow, and there are tons of useless applications amongst the 85,000 available, among many other issues. Our “beloved” Market is already sufficient when it is compared against others but there are still few things that could be improved:

  • Desktop client: We don’t need something as big as iTunes, but a better official Market website with all the apps sorted in categories would be nice addition. Luckily, there are two great websites you can use to search for apps on your desktop: Cyrket and AndroLib. If only the Market app had a QR code reader integrated!
  • Better Android Market app: As we have seen in pre-reviews of Android 1.6, the Market app has been improved but there are still some features it is lacking. For example, when there is an update for an app you have installed, you should be able to have a quick overview of the changes log to know what has been changed, i.e. the bugs fixed.
  • ALL apps available everywhere: This has been a complaint from a number of users. We want to access all the apps available on the Market and we want to be able to reward good developers. Google, you are responsible for the Market so you should work harder to get more countries into the list (free and paid apps).
  • Quality not quantity: Don’t get me wrong here, I greatly respect the work of the developers, but do we really need so many “When you finish a call, you can view some photos!” apps? I mean you can have one app where you choose the photos and that will replace the 199 other apps and clean the Market.
    Also, I have been reviewing hundreds of apps for ADC2 and I’ve seen wonderful gems –they got a great review from me– but sadly, I have also seen absolutely unoriginal, pointless, not well designed apps. There is already (today) more than 12,000 apps and we don’t need more if the new ones don’t bring new ideas, new features,…
  • Localization: When developers are creating an application they should immediately think about the countries where they do not speak their language. It is not enough just to develop your application only in English–first and foremost the English has to be understandable but you should also think about all the users that would prefer an app in their language. (Think: French, German, Spanish, Italian. Dutch, Japanese, or Simplified Chinese.) I know that translation is expensive and translating with Google is not yet good enough, but you could use crowd-sourcing. Why not have developers working together, for example: a French and an English developer could be translating each other’s app!
    What do you mean exactly?!

    What do you mean exactly?!

    Localization should not stop to the text displayed in the app as it can affect the functionality. I was looking at an app recently linked to a Google Maps’ search with fixed keywords, it could not find any “Movie Theaters” (English US) around… the app should have looked for “Cinemas” (English UK) where I was.

Android is a great platform with already great selection of apps, however it could be better. Please do not hesitate to share you opinion; do you agree with me or do you think the Market is great and could not be better? I am expecting your comments.

  • Dr. No

    «ALL apps available everywhere» really is key … I mean come on … there are countries where you can't even get free apps. And a smart phone just isn't worth a whole lot if you can't do other stuff than call and text people.

  • and.dev

    Localization: i think what we need is a central point where devs and translators can find each other.
    With android apps, its that simple:
    – the dev posts the strings.xml (so, no need to share the source code)
    – a willing translator creates a copy of this file, using his native language and posts the resulting file back to the dev
    – the dev just adds the new strings.xml to his project tree
    – in some cases minor changes to the ui will be neccessary (due to different length of words in different languages)
    Done.

  • Bobby

    1.)The market needs better search engine: partial strings, rating, downloads, etc…
    2.)More categories: We need to separate the desktop themes, keyboard skins and other junk little better, and it should be somehow enforced
    3.)Better rating system: 0-5 stars is not bad, if feedback is added from more reliable source like this website or other …. or google its self it might be improvement. Just separate it in review and user feedback. Some sort of recommended apps list or preferred apps user choice award. Something…
    4.) More information on the application: Version, Size, Supporting languages, Better description of what it does.
    5.) Bookmark Feature: Check out what else is there then download the one that you like the best.
    6.) I love the Idea of having the QR code reader.
    7.) Joint market and development forum… Not powered by google but something similar to the xda-developers… it would be nice for devs to share code and experience with all of us Noobs..

    Thanks for listening to my ramblings… I hope some gets implemented the market is chaos right now.

  • Graeme

    How about fixing the fact that Authorizing Credit card when buying an app via the market lasts for ever when buying an app??? Google Checkout is rubbish and needs to be fixed before all the hard work that developers put in gets its just rewards. Many people have posted on the Google 'support' forum over this issue with NO resolution OR answer for months….I dont even think developers are bothering to tackle Google on it! See the link here…http://code.google.com/p/android/issues/list, issue number 2847.

  • Graeme

    that link should be http://code.google.com/p/android/issues/list with no comma :-)