Sam Davyson

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Problems in the Android Market

14/02/11 - 00.38

You hear many people say that the Android Market isn’t nearly as good Apple’s App Store. People used to compete on numbers – but whilst Apple still wins that race – the numbers are so high in both stores that the number of apps has stopped being a good metric. Instead the issues with the Android Market come down to the quality of the experience using it and the quality of the apps. In this post I want to focus on the experience of using the Market itself. Recently the Market has been redesigned somewhat but for me there is still a lot of work to be done. For reference I had an iPhone 3G for a couple of years and have now been using a HTC Desire (Android 2.2) for about a year.

When I have tried to think exactly what it is about the experience that lags behind Apple it has been surprising that although Android is made by Google the area that they most struggle in seems to be search.

I have been aware of these issues for a while, but the difficulties there in taking screenshots on Android devices has made these things hard to catalog until the recent launch of the Android Market website. The search results are in my tests the same on my device as when I use the Market website – although I think it is possible that the search results would slightly differ when using your handset, so to exclude those apps that can’t be run on your phone.

Here is an example of how broken the search is:

Facebook Android Market Results

As you can see Facebook for Android is number 2 in the search results for Facebook. That’s fair enough, but look what it is second to. Radiant HD – which is a game. This is the game’s description:

Take your stand against the alien horde in a vibrant space shooter.

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Take your stand against the alien horde in a pure arcade/action space shooter.
Cut through hundreds of creeps to face giant monsters in unique bossfights. Collect special weapons and power-ups, upgrade your ship and save your homeworld!

Relive the classics revamped.

Later on in the description it does mention Facebook as some sort of shared high scores experience. It is not relevant though – and it is certainly not in the top 10 Facebook related apps in the market. I noticed a similar thing for Twitter – although the official app is number 1 on the first page of results (in the first 12 results):

1 Twitter
2 Plume Premium for Twitter
3 TWIDROYD PRO for Twitter
4 TweetCaster Pro for Twitter
5 The Moron Test
6 Skyfire Web Browser 3.0
7 ZENONIA® 2
8 TweetCaster for Twitter
9 Paper Toss
10 UNO
11 Radiant HD
12 Extended Controls

Seven of the 12 are not Twitter apps! And Tweekdeck – a popular Twitter client across many platforms is listed all the way down at position 61! What absolute nonsense!

I created a little tool so you can easily see how bad the Android Market search results are. It allows you to search for a string within the search results of a particular term. E.g. Searching for ‘Tweetdeck’ in the results for ‘Twitter’ shows you that it appears at number 61. Take a look here – Search within Android Market results.

What other crazy results can you find in search results from the world’s leading search engine?

February 14th, 2011 - 12.38 AM | No Comments »