Android Market Gets Revamped, Still Fails at What Google Does Best

Last week, while all the Google-y eyes were turned toward San Francisco’s Moscone Center for Google I/O, the Android team announced some improvements coming to the Android Market.

Google started by highlighting a few key metrics that make it clear how important apps are to the platform. The Android Market has seen 4.5 billion installs of more than 200,000 apps. On average, that’s 30 downloaded apps for each of the 400,000 Android devices that are activated daily; not too shabby for an app store that’s constantly growing.  By comparison, Apple’s App Store, which has been around a little more than a year longer than Android, has had more than 10 billion installs of more than 300,000 apps.

Then came the big news about the Market. Google announced that they would be adding new and revised lists to the App Market. This is in response to public complaints about app discoverability. There will be Editors’ Pick apps, but the search giant didn’t offer any clear explanation of how these apps would be selected. The company will also highlight the top 150 developers with a special icon. A new trending apps section will show you what’s new and up-and-coming. Plus, Google is tweaking its related apps section to better show what apps are frequently browsed by people who viewed a particular app, and apps that people often install with a given app.

All that sounds great. But as Android users await the next update to the Android Market with its new lists, we can’t help but notice that Google still fails miserably at search in the Android Market; ironic when you consider how Google made its name. The search algorithms in the Android Market are way less intuitive than those in the Google Search bar. Through a couple of simple examples, you can see what I mean.

Take for instance this screenshot of a simple search for the goo.gl url shortener for Android. It is called “goo.gl,” but when you type that into the search bar, these are the results you’ll get:

As you can see, the app named “Goo.gl” isn’t even in the top four results. In fact, if you scroll down, it’s not even on page one.

Searching for Google Books is just as tough. I looked for technology writer Paul Carr’s new book by using the author’s name. Here are the results I got:

Paul Carr, who has published more than seven technology-focused books, doesn’t even show up on the first page of results in the Google Books Market.

It’s hard to believe that the same company responsible for Google Search is also responsible for the Android Market. Before Google adds fancy recommendations to this app store, we need simple discovery by search that lets use find some semblance of what we’re looking for.

Thedroidguy is a regular guest contributor to Laptopmag. He boasts the largest independent Android following on Twitter, and he is one of the top three Android influencers in the world on Twitter. You can follow him @thedroidguy or visit him at www.thedroidguy.com. Views expressed by Thedroidguy are his own.

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