Google needs to improve Android Market

The Google Android Market is significantly lacking in its features and quality controls, according to a prominent developer.

In a blog post, Jon Lech Johan (best known as DVD Jon for cracking that encryption) said the Android application store is filled with cruddy apps that are borderline illegal.

Google does far too little curation of the Android Market, and it shows. Unlike Apple’s App Store, the Android Market has few high quality apps. A study by Larva Labs (the developers of the excellent Slidescreen app) estimates that Apple has paid out 50 times more money to developers than Google has … Below are just a few examples of what’s wrong with the Android Market. Those 144 spam ringtone apps (which are clearly infringing copyright) are currently cluttering the top ranks of the Multimedia category. I was not surprised to find that they were being monetized through Google Ads.

I couldn’t agree more, as the Market is a mess for discovery. I do think that the quality has been steadily improving but there’s still a long way to go.

The main beef I have is that the search features are abysmal. If you misspell an app by a single letter, you’re out of luck and will likely face a blank screen. This is particularly alarming because Google is a freaking search company. Please, please give me a “did you mean … ” option like on Google’s normal search.

To be fair, we know that improvements are on the way. You’ll soon be able to browse the web for apps and, if you’re signed in to your Google account, push those apps to your Android handset over the air. Cool, cool beans.

When you talk app space, you have to compare to Apple’s App Store. It’s important to remember that Apple had a full year of the iPhone before it rolled out the App Store while Google launched its Market with the mobile operating system.

Still, we all know excuses don’t go far in this highly-competitive market and Google needs to make these improvements quickly.

How would you improve the Android Market?

  • @thelazzyone

    "This is particularly alarming because Google is a freaking search company. Please, please give me a “did you mean … ” option like on Google’s normal search."

    If you have Froyo Android 2.2, It does exactly this.

    • marinperez

      Yep, just saw that. Unfortunately, 2.2 is on a small amount of units.

  • Paul

    They really need an apps librarian. Someone who can set up proper categories like the Apple App Store and (heck) BlackBerry App World.

    Predictive text to be enabled

    Suggested results as you type (similiar to

    Better ability to filter results (and not just by price

  • SFComic

    I'd like to be able to sort search results by ratings, size, price, etc.

    However I take issue with the quality control argument. I don't like that Apple has tight control over it's app store. I don't need a gate keeper. I can decide for myself what's useful and what's not. There are thousands of great apps in the market and they're getting better all the time. Android is superior to iOS, IMO, because it lets consumers be the boss, not Steve Jobs.

  • eric

    I certainly agree. The sheer volume of crap (and I mean crap) in the android market is a real disappointment to me.

    I think it is good that Google has not clamped down on the market like the app store, but they really should have a brief approval process that gobbled up useless apps like the zillions of “hot girl wallpaper” and other garbage apps. Heck, no one even checks if the app classifications make any sense.

    I’ve been a day one android early adopter, and that is my #1 android gripe. I do love my EVO though…

  • eric

    I also wish they would ban “serial app offenders” who flood the market with junk.

  • expopanda

    I would do several things:

    a) Improve the categories (there need to be many more fine-grained categories)
    b) Improve search, search history and download history, so that individual recommendations could be made for users (stored histories would have to be opt-in)
    c) create two-tier market: tier 1. Free to enter open market (current style), tier 2: Paid entry Market policed by Google (apple style)

    If you like these ideas then please post here:

    If enough people ask then maybe Google will listen

  • Graham

    I would like to see YouTube-style filtering. I want to see what are the most downloaded by day, week, month, all-time and which are the highest rated over similar periods. I hope they get the web-based market right and make it a really useful tool to discover and push apps to the phone.

  • Martin

    In the name of democratic process Google lets developers put out anything they like on the Market with the users of Android phones left to sort out the junk. Google themselves don't provide any support or filtering. We are not asking to remove good apps but atleast don't let trash in. Numbers like 65000 apps don't mean anything when 95% of them are trash. An app market like that of Palm or Blackberry with 2000 good apps is better than having to go through 65000 apps to find 3000 good ones.

    Don't get my point, checkout the apps by these developers:
    1. Adult in nature: "jackyli", "", "AROMA PLANNING"
    2. Violate copyrights: "Joon Apps", "Liquid Light Apps"
    3. Improperly categorized: You can find hundreds of adult photo apps such as those from "AROMA PLANNING" in Games -> Casual

    And all of these developers have more than 100 apps each in the Android Market!!!

  • Tobias Girelli

    Good article! Yes its true but consider how easiest is for developers to upload an app in Android Market in comparission with app store. Five minutes against 15 days.
    Maybe a merge of booth politics could be great.
    Shouts from Argentina, best!
    Ps: Try my app, I'll be very glad receiving your feedback.

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