May 22 AT 10:00 PM Taylor Wimberly 34 Comments

If I Ran The Android Market, I Would… (POLL)

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.

1. Search

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.

4. Recommendations

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.

5. Favorites

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.

Google I/O

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.

Taylor is the founder of Android and Me. He resides in Dallas and carries the Samsung Galaxy S 4 and HTC One as his daily devices. Ask him a question on Twitter or Google+ and he is likely to respond. | Ethics statement

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  • Ricky

    I say more media. At first I thought it was asking for too much, but it shouldn’t be THAT difficult.
    And it would really be a nice feature.
    If i could, I would have also voted for a better Search method. That’s something that really bugs me.


    i think Google android will control the world , after a few years , our computer , mobile phones , mobile media players all will be install the android system

    google can do well job , and now many chinese guys copy google phone and use android too , you can see

  • http://Website(optional) Maurizio

    I agree with you; unfortunately sometimes is almost impossible finding apps on this market and it is really frustrating searching using internet for pictures or better descritpions in order to see if the application you are looking is good or not..

    We want google market 2.0!

  • Justin

    For heavens sake they need to make the Market look more inviting. The drab look is not inviting at all. Sprucing it up and maybe adding colors would help invite a little interest as well.

  • eZtaR

    I would open up paid apps for all countries, i find it quite lame that, that didn’t happen from day one of the paid apps update :(

    • codethief

      There’re legal issues Google need to deal with, first. Just take VAT and toll for example.

  • Andreas

    I want the ability for developers to comment on comments about their app.

    • Michael

      I second that! It’d be nice to have some sort of dialog with people.

      I’ve noticed with the comments submitted on my app that the happier the users are with it, the more they say, and the less happy, the less they say. My favorite dumb comment has got to be “dsnt wrk”. How about taking two more seconds to tell me something useful – at least that way I might have a chance of making it better.

  • codethief

    I mostly agree with you Taylor, but I think another very important feature besides publishing changelogs would be to be able to release different versions of an application, though under the same name, thus there’d be no need to publish every version with a name extension (“Lite”, “Pro”, “2″, …).

  • Derek James

    Great post, and I agree with everything on your list of changes, and would likely rank them in the order listed, with the exception of swapping #1 and #2. And something that sort of goes along with #2…I’d like to see the market facilitate communication between user and devs. As a dev, I’d like to be able to respond directly to specific comments and/or easily contact someone who has left a comment or downloaded an app. Case in point, one of my first paid apps, a concrete calculator for contractors, received an early 1-star review stating that the calculations were incorrect on computing the volume of a slab. This was a flat-out lie. I’m not sure what the motivations of the commenter were, whether he was mistaken or malevolent, but my sales flatlined after that. There needs to be a way for a dev to constructively deal with a situation like that. In short, with a supposedly open development/operating environment, there should be more and better communication than a closed proprietary system like Apple’s. So far, Android has it backwards.

  • Todd A

    Soundboards, repackaged texts, and mere links to web content need to be under their own categories. When you spend months building an application, only to see it buried under multitudes of “non-applications” within a couple of hours on the market, it is really discouraging.

    If APPLICATIONS are the key to Android (and we all know they are), then the Android Market needs to make sure REAL APPLICATIONS have some visibility.

    If a tree falls in a crap-app forest, can anybody hear it ?

  • nEx.Software

    I would create user definable filters based on criteria such as kerywords in application names, developer names, rating thresholds… I don’t want to see themes, skins, or anything from Netmite… I should be able to apply that persistent filter.

  • Gr8Ray

    I don’t think video is necessary, but I’ve always wondered why they didn’t offer screen shots.

    Another nice addition would be a wish-list, like Amazon. When I’m searching for an app I come across several offerings, I want to be able to add them to a list so I can try them all out and choose the best one.

    Since the comments are mostly worthless now, I can’t ever choose the best app based on the reviews. Some people are just stupid. Maybe there should be a simple IQ test required before it will allow you to post a comment.

  • Brent

    They have to get all the themes into their own category and out of everything else.

    Every time I do a search for a program, the results are so cluttered with themes for all the desktop replacements that I can hardly find any other type of program.

    For Google to be behind all of this and make search … THEIR specialty … so absolutely frickin lousy is just beyond me.

  • Jeff

    First, we need someone like Motorola to take the platform and turn it into a real business. Android is a side project for Google that is why they turned it over to Opensource. Most people in the world do not know what Android/GI/Google phone is. There is no marketing which has worked for search but not consumer products. Apple advertises everywhere.

    It is up to the rest of us to make Android a success, we just need a big company or two to get behind it so there will be a business model worth developing for


  • machee

    As someone who is eagerly awaiting a carrier with coverage in his home area to pick up an Android phone, it’s really nice to see real users of Android honestly talk about its downfalls. Most of the information you usually get is from fanatics ranting about what is so great, or iPhone (or whatever) fanatics talking bad about it without ever having used it.

    I’d like the see more articles about other areas needing improvement from people who use and are excited about the platform.

  • Clark Wimberly

    Its funny you used Game Time as an example. I remember when they released an update for the playoffs and I went to find it and it took me like three searches. There really is no excuse for the poor search options. Like you said, its Google.

    I also voted for more media. There needs to be screen shots (and maybe even video) and a better way for the devs to really sell the game with their descriptions. The short space and content/styling restrictions make it impossible to displaying anything other than drab text.

  • Mike

    They need to set up Android Market similar to the way Betanews is set up. You can see a bunch of software in similar categories with user ratings and suggestions below that. I think Betanews software distribution site has it nailed, it’s perfect:-) My 2 cents;-)

  • Evan Charlton

    Developers need a way to reply (publicly and privately) to comments on our applications. I should be able to e-mail any user who comments, or post a threaded reply to their comment.

    As for privacy concerns: make it craigslist-style. The email would be sent to [email protected] and if they choose to reply back to me to start a discussion, then so be it. Otherwise, they just ignore it and I never find out their real email address.

  • Andrewoid

    The ability to hide content that matches certain criteria is essential in my opinion.

    For instance. I’d like to never see an app with the words “ahome”, “icon pack” and “soundboard” in the name. Also I’d love to be able to hide any apps from certain developers who in my opinion do nothing but spam the market.

  • xoxol

    Google please do what you doing best SEARCH … Make Market better Search & Pic Preview

  • j_norton

    I just want to be able to search for apps based on ratings, like just 5-star apps for example. And get better categories so all those stupid themes don’t get dumped everywhere, and widgets can have a category. And the ability to click links in the description. And Andrewoid’s suggestion of hiding content is also pretty great. Like in a forum where you can hide certain users’ posts.

  • BoD

    As a dev, I think the most urgent features are:

    1/ a better way to describe your app (longer description, screen captures, videos, changelog)

    2/ a way to reply to comments, the current situation is really ridiculous, where you have people *asking questions* on the comment system, and the dev *cannot* answer them.

  • E.T.

    I agree with all of the options really including those mentioned in the comments. Some better categorization would be good like themes, ebooks, etc. It’s not that the they are ‘stupid’ which is your own personal opinion it’s just they don’t have a specific category which is why it seems so cluttered. I mean good god when the few companies or whatever they are release these ebooks, they release about 5-10 at a time completely saturating the market and pushing all the good stuff down the list instantly. Which brings me to my next point…

    There NEEDS to be a timer or max upload limit on the number of apps you can publish in one 24hr day. It’s so damn annoying to go to the market and see 10 ebooks just posted all at once which most people don’t care about or just recently ‘Netmite’ posted damn near 20 games all at once.

    Lastly a way to reply to comments would be great, that’s a huge annoyance since us devs can’t even address anything said publically.

  • William Hua

    Agree wih you Taylor, search is the most important one!

  • urai

    All the points in your list are important, but one thing imho needs to be improved ASAP, even if may be appreciated only by developers… The market needs MORE payment options, paying only with google ckeckout is leaving out a lot of potential customers, how come there is no payment through the operator billing platform?
    Seriously, we need this, a successful market=successful platform!

  • Derek James

    Another gripe, although a small one…I’d like a better way to check my orders/sales with my phone. As it is, I have to click through several slowly-loading pages and log in. An Android Market sales tracker app would be great.

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  • Maisum

    Maybe you could search apps that other people had.
    Like If each android user had a unique ID (maybe passowrd) and one person could go and search through their apps and download them aswell.
    Would be useful for newcomers with friends that have G1′s…

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  • nEx.Software

    If I ran the Android Market, I would release a Widget called Market Pipe that allows users to apply basic filters to the data that they see, including the ability to exclude apps by full or partial name, developers by full or partial name, apps that don’t meet a certain threshold, and are of a certain type or price type.

    Shameless Plug:

  • E.T.

    Yes I agree with Urai. More payments options would be fantastic as well and would improve the market greatly along side all the other suggestions listed here.

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