What Needs Fixing In Android’s Market?

What Needs Fixing In Android’s Market?

Google’s Market for Android apps has the distinct advantage of being more open than Apple’s App Store. But more users and developers are noticing the drawbacks. We’re wondering where you’d like to see Google use a stronger hand in the Market.

Jon Lech Johansen, developer of the original DVD decryption hack and now the doubleTwist media management software, could accurately be called an Android supporter. DoubleTwist is commonly called “iTunes for Android”, and the app’s development is focused on Android in a big way, even adding its own Market search recently. But looking around the market, Johansen finds it hard to find high-quality apps, easy to find terrible apps, rampant copyright violation, and not enough incentive for developers to try and make money in the Market.

Johansen’s post is well worth the short read, even if the screenshots may make Android fans a little sad. But let’s put that frustration to good use, and dream up ways in which Google could fix up the Market. What do you want to see when you log into the Market, either from your phone or through a much-improved web interface? Would you abolish the star-rating system entirely, or modify the ratings? Should Google be able to offer personalised app recommendations based on your download history?

Put on your thinking caps (and your grumbling … jeans) and tell us where Google’s gone wrong in the Market, and what could fix it, in the comments.

Google’s mismanagement of the Android Market [Jon Lech Johansen’s blog]


  • A couple of simple things that would improve the market enormously for me:

    1) Allow users to block certain (spamming) publishers from their market display (I’m looking at you ‘M STAR LLC’!).

    2) As well as the “Top Paid/Free”, which is currently displayed, I’d like a “Top Paid/Free This Week” option, so you can see recent releases that get swamped in the “Just In” list.

    I must admit that when I first got my Android phone (early last year) I would check the Just In list pretty much daily, as a couple of minutes was enough to quickly browse everything released that day for anything interesting. Nowadays, I rarely browse the market at all, relying on blogs or other recommendations to send me to particular apps.

  • The Android Market is probably the weakest part of the Android experience. It’s not that there’s no great apps – there are hundreds – it’s just that they’re so hard to find without websites like Lifehacker to find them for you because of all the crap.

    Jon nails most of the issues, but there are more.
    – separate the adult and softpr0n rubbish or allow it to be filtered out (even though as Jobs says, it’s what the Android phone is for!)
    – set filters on rating (e.g. only show 4 or 5* apps)
    – show paid and demo versions of an app on the same entry
    – Allow exclusion of specific publishers, titles, keywords
    – allow date filtering or ordering of the lists
    – Have a full website for the Market (because a phone screen is just too small to go through thousands of apps), with either syncing to a connected phone, or a push function to send selected apps to a specific goog account (as per Doubletwist).
    – have a “panic button” reporting malicious apps, and investigate and remove (and banhammer) the guilty
    – have much closer review of apps with suspicious priveledges
    – have clearer specification of which versions of Android (or which phones) Apps do and do not work on

    • I like some of those ideas, Chris. With respect to the last one, when browsing the market, only apps that are supported on your phone’s version of Android, and your phone’s hardware, should be displayed currently. Unfortunately, this relies on the app developer being rigorous about marking his application requirements in the application’s manifest, the Android version is normally done correctly, but the hardware requirements often are not – I’m guilty of this myself!

      This also ties into your other suggestion that Google are more rigorous about investigating apps that are marked by people as malicious / malfunctioning etc, something they don’t seem to do at all in my experience.

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