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 There are too many apps which are outdated or not maintained any longer (I have one app with 250.000 + downloads without an update since more than one year, despite obvious bugs).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

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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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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

Google launches Android Market Browser Version

Finally Google launched also a browser based version of the market, that’s what I thought. Since they have the full access to market apps and data (they “own” it), they should have come out with a very powerful apps browser, right ? Unlike the other websites that build app catalogs using the market API (which gives you limited access only).

What we get is a slightly Web 1.0 style looking website with very limited browsing and searching capabilities. It is time for a search function that allows me to
a) exclude certain apps or titles
b) select the language. Chinese and Korean apps are of no use for me, sorry.

Why can’t I have a list view with 10,25 or 100 results ? Instead I need to click through pages with 12 apps, looking at meaningless apps logos. I rather would see a screenshot.

Android Market by Google (Web Version)

Android Market by Google (Web Version)

Android Market by Google (Web Version)

Remark: For now I stick to AndroidZoom (even there is advertising placed on the site)!

More Thoughts about Android

Open Platform
Despite Android being a open platform (you can download the complete OS sourcecode and compile by yourself if you have the urge to do so), there 10.000’s of applications and only very few of them are open too. Android as an open platform to deliver closed and proprietary products. Lets see how that works out in future. Unlike Ubuntu which is an Open Source OS with a vast Open Source applications ecosystem. I suspect with more hardware manufacturer coming on board its going to be more complicated, hopefully it wont start splitting or forking at some stage.

Market Access as Developer
Is it impossible to get into the market with a new application, the top 100 is dominated by applications that are around since Android was born (having a high download rate or just being the first to create a specific application type that was not there yet) or because they have a very good concept and are implemented very well and then spread virally.
So for you newbie developer it is very hard to get a serious user base. You better have a unique idea and some design skills !
With 300.000 newly registered Android Phones every day, any application in the market will be downloaded by someone. My simple counting application was downloaded more than 100 times.
Assuming you can sell an application at 1$, can create a serious amount of cash. Even 10.000 downloads is a lot of money, and I see lots and lots of ridiculous pay-apps where I just wonder who pays for this.
It is all statistics ! And more interesting, it is impossible to track for the finance departments of governments, you potentially make 100.000 a year without paying tax. Your earnings come via google payment.

Visible Trojan Horses
How often do you seriously look at the permissions an application ask for while installing ? Now, I look what they ask for, earlier I just press OK. Why does a memory games for kids needs full internet access and the ability to make phone calls ?? Its is not a big deal to create an app that secretly scan the SD card and happily transfer it to somewhere.  With windows you dont see Trojan Horses coming in, with Android you invite them openly (if you dont open your eyes!).

IP Protection ?
Copyright infringement is widespread. There are hundred of memory games, puzzles, wallpapers, drawing games and soundboards with images and sounds of movies and cartoon characters, created by anyone but not licensed (by the copyright holder) developers. It seems there is a tutorial about Android memory games somewhere, if you search for memory games, there are hundred’s, just with different images. I wish there would be a filter when browsing through the market.
Update: Here it is > http://mobile.dzone.com/news/memory-game… The complete sourcecode for your to create one more memory game !

On the other side I wonder when you can download or torrent complete CD’s full with APK’s of commercial applications and your apps start spreading around without you getting any payment. I think there are some concepts but no enforcement of 1 app runs on 1 device. Could be part of the download and installation process

Dont buy tablets now !
I almost bought a Galaxy Tab last week (after passing the crap Palroid to my daughter of 3 years). But reading the online news (rumors) reveals there will be no Android 3.0 for it, but rather a Galaxy Tab 2 presented in mid February. So any money spend on Android 2.x tablets is wasted money.

Hardware overkill
Android 3.0 is targeting tablets which become more and more powerful (and expensive). What will happen to regular phones ? Soon we will have widespread of applications that wont run on a phone because of less powerful hardware. They might even introduce a power benchmark index for each application and if your phone is lower than the required index you cant run it.

Pricing
What is the point of tablets beyond the 1000$ mark ? They are venturing into another market that just died, netbooks. I like Android because it is cheap and powerful, if I spend more than 1000$ I get a notebook and load it with Ubuntu. And a 10″ tablet is not that much smaller than a notebook. The same time we will see notebooks becoming smaller with removable keyboards. This year will be interesting where the market and demand will shift towards.