One of the biggest complaints Android users have had about the open source operating system has been the poor user interface of the application Marketplace. While developers have been getting more excited about the platform due its growing adoption, the difficulty of using the app browser has led to users not downloading as man apps as their iOS using peers. Google is going to do something about it at long last.
On the Android Developers blog this past week, it was announced that all users with Android 1.6 and above could expect to see a new version of the Marketplace in the coming weeks. As this was written for the developers, and not the end users, the focus was more on how this will get more people to download their applications, but some of those aspects could definitely be of importance to the end users also.
Some of the key aspects mentioned were that the new version would “improve merchandising of applications, streamline the browse-to-purchase experience, and make it easier for developers to distribute their applications.”
There was also a mention that there would be “a focus on improving discoverability”, which was not detailed, but anything has to be better than the current setup. As our own Tom Moccia wrote last week about his frustrations of moving from the iOS App Store environment to the Marketplace, there is just no easy way to get through the apps as they are just long lists that you have to constantly scroll through, which frankly gets annoying after just a few seconds. Unless there is some secret Web interface coming up that will let you browse through all of the Android’s apps, I’m not sure what Google could be doing that will make the process of finding new apps any easier. So long as it is restricted to the phone, it’s not going to be that enjoyable of an experience.
In other good news, the Marketplace will now allow developers to not only set what version of the Android OS their apps will work with, but also set guidelines for screen sizes and resolutions. This could be extremely important for game developers, but could also see users getting more annoyed over the fragmentation we are seeing where users are find themselves locked out of certain apps and Android features because their phone can’t have the latest version of the OS. Now we will be further segregated based on the size of our screens? This could be great for developers, or extremely frustrating as they see some sales drop off.
Updates to the Marketplace were definitely needed, but it still doesn’t sound like its totally heading in the correct direction.
What say you? Are you excited for the update to the Marketplace?