Thoughts about Android

What is still missing in the market (the official Android Market) ?

  1. Language filter
    Now with a total number of apps beyond 150.000 it becomes harder by the day to find apps. Time to release a feature that allows to search apps in one (or more) languages. It does not help to browse through Chinese or Korean or Spanish apps (depending on your mother tongue).

    Language Filter ?

  2. Dates Added and Last Updated for apps
    There is currently no way to identify when an app was added or when it was updated last time. There are too many apps which are outdated or not maintained any longer (I have one app with 250.000 + downloads without an update since more than one year, despite obvious bugs). Maybe create an automatic flag “this app was not update for more than 12/24 months” so user dont waste their time looking at it, or even filter it out. Of course there are alos stable apps that dont need to be updated.
    PS: You can see the changelog with www.androidzoom.com, I guesss they maintain it independently.
  3. Sandbox for “Hello World” and “Test” apps
    Give the developer community a sandbox area where they (we) can do our tests and fooling around with features. The noise factor for the real apps gets higher and higher. OK, you dont search for “hello world”, but it would help doing the housekeeping.

    Test App

    Hello World

More statistics

Made some more statistics just by looking at the number of apps within one month (using the frontpage of androidzoom.com).
Of the roughly 175.000 apps, only 12% are games. There is a vast number of apps disappearing every month. Look at wallpapers and cards games.
I doubt many developers actively remove their apps from the market, so who else is doing it ? Are so many apps flagged by users or is Google looking at IP infringement at last ? (How many wallpapers can you count of movies and cartoons which are definitely NOT licensed by the respective owner?)
Look at it by yourself..

Homemadde statistics

Android Investigations (3)

You remember my recent ranting about the noise ratio in the market, with same apps showing up hundred’s of times ? I checked further on “Boost The Cat” and obviously our friend with 8 different names/pseudonyms submits the exact same app 30 times in each account. You will 250 versions of Boost the Cat ! Hoping for users to click the Google ads in the app. If only 10 users a day click the approach proofs him right and the noise level in the market will increase more.
The guy is uploading the same app as update every day, you will always find it under “Just in”.

Boost The Cat Spam

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Android Investigations (2)

Not enough with the foul play from the previous part, developer also hook on current affairs, like catastrophes and incidents.

Let’s search in the market for “japan nuclear”. We find about 50 apps with these keywords. There are lot of good apps, or apps with good intention, showing current radiation level, etc. Most of them are free. This shows apps can be useful, even in bad days.

But now look at the other side of the medal, some developer try to make cash with apps covering some kind of radiation apps, or try to promote poor games with the crises. Let me put one thing straight, if your app is paid and you donate the revenue to the Japan rebuild/crisis efforts, it is perfectly fine, if not you should be ashamed.
How can I verify if the app is charity related ?

Apps covering the Japan nuclear crisis

Apps covering Japan nuclear crisis

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Android Investigations

I love to examine the physics of the Android market, specifically since it is open and there is no controlling, approving or censoring authority (like the other shop from the fruit department). Anything can be submitted to the market, as long it is not breaking some basic rules and no one flag it as inappropriate (even then I am curious who looks at the flagged apps).

Quite often I browse through news apps and games to see how other developers start new apps in the market, to get ideas and gather more insights of the market ecosystem. I came across another pattern for some new apps, specifically homebew ones. The way the developer try to promote his app by self-praise. This can be achieved by..

App name and description, Keywords and Developer Name

Now you can see more apps with a title including the words free, best, cool,..

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Android Samsung Galaxy Tab Alternative

I believe it makes no sense to buy a ~ 900.- SGD (3g, GPS), respectively a 500.- SGD (wifi only) device running Android 2.2 without any chance even to update to 2.3, such as the Galaxy Tab, the same time Galaxy is releasing already the new 3.0 based models. So how to find a cheap device that can compete with the Galaxy Tab ?
After buying one Android 10″ Tablet from DHGate.com without problems I decided to look for a second one, a 7″ device. Certainly not easy to find a good device among the many offers on the trading platform, but I was lucky enough to choose this PC-7006 1Ghz device for 223.- U$ (incl. shipping) from the dealer avatar2012:

Android MID 7"

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Wholesale Android direct Import from China

Since it does make little sense to purchase am expensive (but soon outdated) Galaxy Tab, Toshiba 100 or any of its big brand brothers, I decided to go for one of these China wholesale Android devices that we need for some testing and development. You certainly come across the ads from dhgate.com and similar offerings that pop up on any Android related website. dhgate.com worked fine for me the first time, even it is nothing more than a trading platform for chinese products. So the product quality and delivery still depends on the seller, but you get certain assurance by the platform.

The Android I chosed: 10″ X220 Android 2.2, 1 Ghz CPU with 512MB RAM for 205.- U$ (about 258.- SGD) with free shipping

From website (Copyright belongs to owner)

Specs from website (Copyright belongs to owner)

The order was processed within few hours and it did not take more than 2 days to be shipped to Singapore.

Wholesale Android Tablet

Wholesale Android Tablet

Wholesale Android Tablet

My first impressions of the SuperPad III:

  • The device looks sturdy and is quite well assembled, it does not look cheap or like plastic china stuff.
  • The appearance is very close to the Apple iPad.
  • The resistive screen is smooth (much better than the Palladine Palroid)
  • The performance is very good (we are talking about a 200U$ device!)

Some more details after using it for a while:

  • The “built-in” GPS is an external GPS receiver that is plugged into the device. Not useful, except you mount it in the car.
  • It comes with a ethernet connection (RJ-45). A bit contradictious to a mobile device.
  • NO ROOT.
  • It has NO USB port to connect the device as drive or for debugging. The is no debugging setting available. My attempt to adb wireless failed (due to no root).
  • The market is the China “free-only” market which gives you no access to paid apps.
  • Plug a headset into the earphone connector makes the screen shut off (hardware failure). I guess they would exchange without problems, I dont need it so I skipped the exchange.

Recommendation: If you look for a cheap alternative to play, watch movies on a decent speedy piece of hardware with a big screen, go for it ! No viable for development.

Thoughts about Android Apps

  • While the official Google Android Market (web) still remains lame and lacks of features, I stay with AndroidZoom ! It is fast with updates too, I just uploaded my sample application 0.4 of CountRoid and the page reflected the update within minutes after the upload in the market.

    AndroidZoom

  • It is amazing to observe what app find their way into the market and in what quality level they show up. It is an open system, any app that does not conflict with basic laws will stay in the market. No censorship for quality, design or usefulness. Some samples:
    • Games: Despite living in the year 2011 with game consoles almost perfectly simulating reality, mobile users are happy with games that roughly meet Commodore C64 standards from 1983. I dont want to offend any developer, like myself, often good developer are not necessary good designer with often poor graphic design results. But lets look how popular these apps are.
      ActionSwing 

      Android Games (2011)

      This games makes you jump the little hangman from his swing. If it lands on the moving platform, you get points. The figur is not animated whil jumping or landing, only the physics seem to be correct.
      No offense, but this might be a nice programming tutorial, but why is it downloaded >250.000 times and get almost 3.000 ratings (some even good ones) ?

      C64 Hangman 1983

    • Tutorial Games: You search for the term “chain reaction” in the market and you will find about 500+ games of the exact same type. You have some floating objects on the screen and once you touch one of them, any other will explode/pop if it touches the initial one, like a chemical chain reaction. Some of the developer even bother to upload the same game with varying names 20 times. Being all free, does not make much sense to me

      Chain Reaction Games

      Chain Reaction Games

      I suspect some of the developer accounts are run by the same person, hoping to make some bucks with the ads placed in the app. I consider this as market spam, they even push uploads every few days without any changes, I guess to show up in the “new apps” section. The description is always the same (“XYZ is an addictive game. Click the screen to start a chain reaction and try to boost as many xyz as needed to pass a level.”), I suspect someone created a submit-app bot.
      If you feel the urge to add one more chain reaction app: Here the sourcecode at google code.

    • Air Attack
      Another game that is graphically very simple but obviously still addictive (I play it too). There are 2 version (free with ads and one for 1CHF without ads). Hard to believe it was bought 10.000 to 50.000 times. That should challenge more people to go apps development, I wouldnt mind 25.000,- extra cash. 

      Air Attack

    • On the other side is plain amazing what kind of games the big shops like EA get out on the Android, just look at Asphalt HD