Gaming the “New” Android Market

mstar_android_marketOne of the more well-known features of Android 1.6 (Donut) is the improved Android Market.  One of the enhancements to the content portal is the ability to sort apps by titles consideredt be “Just In”.  This is designed to bring up only the most recent apps available to users.  Unfortunately, it’s entirely too easy to game the system.

All that is needed to qualify for the new filter is an update to your app.  Most companies tend to update their applications with new features or added content.  Others, will put out out minor, almost unnoticeable changes to the app in order to reap the benefits.  An example of this would be language additions.  Add German today and get listed as “just in”.  Add Dutch tomorrow and you’re right back in the mix.  Repeat as desired.


One such company who may or may not be deliberately working the system is M STAR LLC.  With a large percentage of their apps being paid, a move like this would not surprise us.  Looking through their list, one gets the sense that all these calculators could be merged together as one and sold.  We also noticed that many of the apps all have the same, or very similar, release number.  Are they going down the list and updating each app with the minor stuff just to keep the paid apps on the fresh list?  We’ll let you decide that.

How does Google slow this down or discourage it this ?  Do they need to?

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In addition to smartphones and mobile gadgets, Scott has a deep appreciation for film, music, and sunflower seeds. A husband and father, he likes spending down time riding his mountain bike or binge-watching TV. Scott has overseen the day-to-day activities of AndroidGuys since 2007.
  • Scrolling through these "updated" apps doesn't bother me as much as Google messing with the freedom of the market would.

  • The statement that every update places an app in the Just In list in incorrect.

    Yes, you can push your updates as often as you want. However, an updated app will only appear in the Just In list once every two weeks or so.

  • David

    There shouldn't be any limits on how often an app can be updated, but an update of an existing app shouldn't earn a listing in the new apps list. Perhaps addition to this list could be limited based on factors other than date. I'd suggest this could be done by tracking when an app of a certain name by a certain developer is first submitted to the market. Developers won't want to change the names of their apps when they update them, so it should be easy to track this. If an update is sent, the app is compared against this database; if this name and dev combination are there, the app isn't bumped to the New list.

  • Unless your app is in top 20 for a category having it to appear in Just In list is pretty much the only way to attract new users. As it currently stands, after your app does get "featured" in Just In list you get 24-48 hours before it disappears in the abyss of Android Market.


    Instead of letting google (or whoever) decide what you should see, simply let the user decide for himself:
    add a "filter" feature to the market, capable to hide by app-name and/or dev-name.

    I dont like M STAR LCC repeat its apps every other day (as well as i dont like the spam "view fotos when you finish a call" apps), but as cyberchuck said, any type of "censoring" would be worse.

    • David

      So, then I'd have to manually add every application to a filter? If the "New apps" list is supposed to list "New apps", how is it censorship to limit what's shown in it to…wait for it…"New apps"? If they want to add another list for "Newly updated apps", then that's cool too. But having the New Apps list show old apps that have been updated clogs the list, preventing apps that are actually new from getting the attention that they deserve.


        Not "every app" but the "black sheep" authors – which would be done quickly as there are few such authors yet (and this would also prevent other authors from doing the same thing as the well known "black sheeps").

        "Just in" doesnt mean "new apps" but "just uploaded", so its new and updated apps.

        Making another list "brand new apps" wouldnt work because this list has to be filtered if an author adds an app (V1.0) and then a first update at the same day (V1.1), which would be confusing for the users (as either the "old" app will be listed, or the brand new app isnt listed as new).

  • Let them die naturally, better yet – sort by popularity and not just by number of stars but take in equation number of downloads and how many users rated the app. For me – that's all I need

  • Sbarney

    Wait, what? This has always been on the market when listing them by date. There's nothing new about this.

  • Getting new apps noticed is certainly a challenge. I think I may be getting more recognition by other means then the Android market. I don't have a way to track this, but I think for sustainable sales we (the developers) have to use other forms of marketing and not depend on just the Android market to get our apps noticed. There will always be companies that will try to game the system…I like the feature mentioned above that would allow you to filter developers. It's ultimately up to the users on which apps survive in the long run.

  • I know there cant be a 'real fix' here, but as someone suggested, maybe filters could be used to sort the market. Have the ability to have each category turned on or off via system settings. Personally, I love to see all that is out there and look at least 2 times a day. But, the annoyance of some features I know I will never use like Entertainment or Finance, it would be nice to simply click them off so I do not have to see these. The solution could be that simple.

  • This isn't true. It was true in Market 1.5, but in 1.6 the updates do not automatically go to the top of the Just In list with every update.

    What exactly are you basing your claim on? Did you publish your own app and verify it works the way you claim?

    I'm not familiar with M STAR LLC but I think you should not single them out for something that isn't even happening the way you say it is.

  • oakland510

    I saw the same thing for iPhone apps. I would get alerts that updates were available and they were simply language updates or minor updates. I think you are going to run into that anywhere you go.

  • I have bee publishing apps on the market since paid apps first became available. The “Just In” list has always shown apps that are brand new, and old apps that are updated at least 2 weeks after the previous version. This was true for Android 1.1, 1.5 and I suspect this is true for 1.6. That said, I have not yet attempted to publish 2 updates to the same app in 1.6.

    I must also comment on the usage of the word “improvement” when referring to Android Market 1.6 over 1.5. From my experience, the Market update was almost entirely cosmetic. I have received the same download problems and unreliability that the Market has always exhibited.

    My overall feeling toward Android Market 1.6: Screenshots are nice but its the same buggy, half-assed software it was 6 months ago.

    Everyone knows that the apps will make the difference in the Mobile OS war. Apple, while imposing harsh guidelines, totally respects this fact and it is evident in the quality of their App Store. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for Google’s Android Market.

  • iPaul Pro said, "The "Just In" list has always shown apps that are brand new, and old apps that are updated at least 2 weeks after the previous version."

    is this 2 week update hurdle documented anywhere?

    • I have not found any documentation of this, but have simply noticed that my updates do not show up if I do not allow at least 2 weeks between versions. This may (is likely to) change at any time, and may not be currently true. I have not released an update to an individual app in fewer than 2 weeks since the 1.6 Market, so I am not sure. YMMV

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