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Android Market gets makeover with top apps list, recommendations

May 12, 2011 — by LinuxDevices Staff — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 1 views

Google's Android Market, which recently passed the 200,000-application milestone, received new features geared toward improving the user experience. New features include top new free, top new paid, and top grossing lists, an editors' choice section, a top developers list, and an improved related apps function that suggests recommendations based on other buyers' choices.

Google's Android Market isn't terrible, but it's certainly been lacking some of the glossy polish that mobile app users have come to associate with Apple's App Store, which has over 300,000 apps. In recent months, Google has been struggling to catch up with Apple by improving app payment coverage, adding back-end like app usage analytics, and including in-application and carrier billing.

At Google I/O here in San Francisco May 11, Google went a step further by announcing features that benefit users as much as developers. The company has refreshed Android Market's top app charts (below, left) to target specific countries, and has added top new free, top new paid and top grossing lists on the Android Market home page.

Android Market's new top apps list (left) and editors' choice list
(Click on either to enlarge)

Google added an "editors' choice" section to the market (above, right), which includes "some of the very best apps available for Android, as chosen by the Android Market staff," according to a blog announcement by Android Market Product Manager Fernando Delgado.

The company also smartened up by celebrating the top developers for the Android Market that have chipped in the most popular apps. Initially, the 150 top Android app developers will get a special icon where their names are displayed on Android Market. Google also added a new trending apps section on the Android Market homepage, which signal apps that are quickly growing in daily installs.

In addition, Google is tightening up its related apps section on the left of the app page in the Market. Users will now see apps frequently browsed by people who viewed this app, and apps that people are inclined to install alongside this app. The goal here is to expose users to new, yet similar apps that they might enjoy using.

As noted by Android Central, the related apps section also offers family content filtering, accessible from the Market, Menu, Settings screens. Here, one can now sorts apps into rated groups including low, medium, and high maturity.

Meanwhile, Androidcentral reports that app limit sizes on Android Market have been expanded from 50MB to 4GB. In addition, says the story, developers can now choose to block their apps from being installed on an Android phone, instead of a tablet.

The new usability features are available now on the desktop PC-compatible Android Market Webstore, where one can also see the new movie rental store that was announced on May 10. The new features will appear soon in the Android Market app on phones and tablets, says Google.

Google announced that the Android Market has topped 4.5 billion downloads. Moreover, Google has expanded the number of countries where Android customers can buy apps via the Android Market to 131, up from just 32 to date.

Google I/O goodies

The Android Market tweaks come at a heady time for Google, which has offered a number of intriguing announcements at Google I/O. The company even managed to attract some of the media focus away from Microsoft's acquisition of Skype.

The Android Market enhancements were revealed on day two of the Google I/O show after Google announced the first two Chrome OS notebooks, called Chromebooks, due to ship from Samsung and Acer on June 15. Day one featured the release of Android 3.1, a sneak peak at "Ice Cream Sandwich," And an [email protected] platform, as well as a Music Beta by Google site, among other news.

Android 3.1

Earlier this week, Google announced version 1.5 of its Google App Engine public cloud platform and also preannounced plans to move the service into enterprise-grade production mode in the latter half of 2011. Version 1.5 adds features such as Backends, improvements to Task Queues, and support for the Google Go programming language.

An eWEEK analysis of Google's announcements may be in found in Don Reisinger's "Google I/O product plans: 10 clues to the company's future growth". Meanwhile, Google I/O is analyzed from an enterprise VAR perspective by Jessica Davis, writing in our sister publication Channel Insider.

As for that white, limited edition version of the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 that was given away to over 5,000 Google I/O attendees? Well, we checked it out, and it looks pretty sweet indeed.

Clint Boulton is a writer for eWEEK.

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