Today marks the 7th month since the T-Mobile G1 was first released. We have seen several updates to the Android operating system including the 1.5 release which added many new features. I have been running the cupcake build for almost a month and I’m very pleased with the progress. However, when it comes to the Android Market I have many gripes.
Anyone who has followed the iPhone’s success recognizes the importance of the Apple App Store. In their first nine months, they recorded 1 billion downloads. I’m sure many of you have seen the “There’s an app for that” commercials on TV. If developers and the applications they create are so important to the success of a mobile platform, why has the Android Market been placed on the back burner?
What can we do to encourage Google to step up their Market resources? Do we even need Google to improve the Market? Could the community actually build a better version? Before we can answer those questions, let us discuss what improvements we would like to see first. Several months ago I made a small list of complaints I had with the Market. This time I want to list actual features I think would improve the end user experience. Read over our list and then be sure to vote at the bottom of the page for the features you want most.
When I say the word Google, what is the first thing that comes to your mind? Most people would say “search”. In fact, their mission is to “organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful”. Why is it then, that the search feature of Android Market does not work?
I’ve lost count of the times I knew the name of the app I was looking for, but I couldn’t find it by doing a simple search. For example, take the app NBA Game Time. When the app is installed, the icon only says “GameTime”. If you show the app to a friend and he searches “GameTime”, that search will return zero results. Instead the only way to find the app by search is to type “game time”; two words instead of one.
Google is the main search engine I use for the web. Almost every Google product has a search feature and most of them work the same way. Even when I spell a word wrong or have a typo, it still knows what I am looking for. Very simply, I want Market search to work like all other Google products.
2. More Media
When you publish an application to the Market, you only get 325 characters to describe it. I often find myself downloading apps and games just to figure out what they are and how they look. I want screen shots and video in every description.
Google owns YouTube. It would be very easy to allow developers to upload videos to YouTube and then link them when they publish their app. The G1 has a built in YouTube players, so I think this feature is a no brainer.
There should also be the ability to upload screen shots of your application. If Google wants to cut down on load times, the pictures and videos could be hidden within the default Market view. A simple tap of the finger would expand the description and reveal the new content. This would allow devs to better market their products and help the customers find what they are looking for.
3. Share via Social
Several of my friends have a G1 and we sometimes talk about new apps that hit the Market. I want the ability to long press an app in the market and share the link via Gmail. Why stop there though? The Market should be able to use any of the share intents. If I find a great new Android game and I want my friends on Twitter to check it out, it would be nice to again long press the app and make a post with Twidroid.
Word of mouth is a great form of advertising. If you make it easy to share links to the Market, then you increase the number of impressions and downloads you can get. Again, this would probably take 5 minutes for someone to include this feature.
When I shop online, I use Amazon for almost everything. They have the best recommendations engine I have ever used. Each time I login, they have new products I might consider viewing based on my purchasing history. This feature keeps me coming back and has definitely increased my purchases from the site.
I would like to see a similar “You might also consider…” section in the Android Market. Google tracks everything I download and install so they should have the ability to recognize patterns among users.
Many Google applications like Gmail and Reader allow you to star an item to mark it as a favorite. I would add the same functionality to applications and developers in the Android Market. I have found several apps that I wanted to use, but they had bugs or missing features that made me uninstall them.
If I could star an application, then I could receive a notification alert when an update is released. Currently, you can only get update notifications for installed applications. Since the G1 has a limited memory to install apps, the ability to watch apps for updates is a needed feature. It would also be nice to watch your favorite developer and receive alerts when they publish a new application.
With the ability to mark favorites, you could receive a custom feed that included all the updates for apps and devs you follow. Imagine something similar to Twitter with only the ability to watch. This should be quite simple to integrate into the current Market UI.
6. Release Notes
Finally, one of my most requested feature from developers is a change log of updates. Sometimes they post the release notes on their website, but many do not even have sites. Why not allow a section in the Developer Console to include release notes? This would allow us to easily see what new features and bug fixes are include with each update. No longer would we have to search the web in order to find what has changed.
Now it is your turn to tell us what you think. Vote below to pick the features you want most. If you have a new idea, you can vote other and leave a comment below to describe it.
Next week we are going to Google I/O and we have been invited to a special Android Media Roundtable. A member of the Android Market team will be in attendance to answer questions on development for the Android Market. Please leave your feedback so we can relate this information to Google. If you have any other odd Market questions, just post them below and I will try my best to get answers.