Friday, 29 April 2011

How Google could improve Android Market to support higher quality apps

Recently number of free applications in Android market went past Apple's apps store for iOS [source]. Quantity doesn't really tell anything about quality though. Currently the way Google's Android market doesn't really support high quality apps. They are drowned into a see of poor quality or even spam.

Google's choice of having Android market open and without any approval process naturally has effect on apps that get uploaded. Many of the apps in the market seem to be not well thought out or sometimes not finished. Not even mentioning the spam that plaques the market place.

I'm standing behind Google's choice of open market but there are many things they could do to support and promote the apps that deserve to be rised above the mass without forcing a approval process on all apps.

Featured apps. Why not featured channel?
Google promotes some 20 apps any given time as "featured". Featured apps are handpicked and it is a sign of elevated quality. But once app is removed from the featured apps list there's no record of it ever being there.

I think Google should change their featured list to a featured channel. I'd like the app to stay in the featured list once it is added there.

Manufacturer channels
Sony Ericsson now includes their own channel in Android market app they ship with their phones. The channel not only includes Sony Ericsson apps but also apps they have selected to promote. 

I think this approach is interesting but could be taken one step further to benefit users even more. In my opinion manufactures should include a phone specific channel targeted to individual phone models. This would promote high quality apps that are tested to run perfectly on the user's specific phone. This approach is probably not feasible with all phone models but manufacturers could follow it with high volume models and their more expensive lineup.

Review and not to review
Nobody can deny the value of Apple's review process for the end users. It drives quality of the apps higher. I don't want Google to follow that model however. Its negative effects outweigh the positive by far. There's a middle ground though. I think Google should open up a possibility for developers to submit their apps to a strickt but optional review process. Any apps that pass the review would be added to a reviewed app channel.

The channel would promote high quality apps and give end users a safe set of apps. Existence of this channel would thrive developers to try to pass the review to get the extra exposure and following sales or ad income.

By adding a feature to phones that would allow lockout of other apps could this could also provide a safe environment for enterprise users or kids.

Google holds the keys for allowing good applications to shine over the masses. Promoting good apps would set precedence for other developers to aim for better results. But does Google want to do it? Is Google happier when others, like Amazon,  take over the application market?