Posts Tagged ‘Android Market’

Gmail Moves to the Android Market

Wednesday, September 22nd, 2010

Google has announced a change in its Gmail app for Android. Rather than waiting to be updated when the OS is upgraded, users will be able to get updates from the Android Market.

According to Google, there have been improvements made on message replies and quoted text, among other things. The “important” message actions on an email will remain fixed to the top of the screen rather than scrolling out of site on a long message. You can also view quoted text, just as in the web version. Last, but not least, there is now limited support for priority inbox as well.

I think it is a good idea for Google to move beyond the slow upgrade process of the various phone manufacturers/carriers. Unfortunately though, this app is Froyo only. I won’t be able to get it for a long time, if ever, on my Xperia X10. If you have Froyo (Android 2.2), you can get the app upgrade here. If you are on your desktop you can scan this QR code with your phone.

If you do have Froyo, enjoy. If you are going to be waiting around a while, I am right there with you. It will be nice when Google prevents carriers from dragging their feet on system upgrades. I am really looking forward to it.

Apps, Apps Everywhere and Not A Link to Click

Saturday, August 21st, 2010

The title of this post was inspired by the Rime of the Ancient Mariner.

“Water, water, everywhere,
And all the boards did shrink;
Water, water, everywhere,
Nor any drop to drink.”

– Samuel Taylor Coleridge

I have spent quite a bit of time these last couple of weeks looking for apps to download. I have been looking both in Apple’s App Store and the Android Market. While one is supposed to believe that there are way more apps, and better ones at that on Apple’s side than on Android, I have not found that to be the case. Both marketplaces feature a great number of worthwhile apps. Apple does get more attention from some of the larger corporations, but other than that, I have not seen the huge disconnect that everyone is talking about, at least not to the proportion described.

The primary fault in the Android Market is the difficulty in finding worthy apps. It is not that they aren’t there, it is just that you have to wade through so many mediocre apps to find the diamonds in the rough. If the Android Market could be organized like the Apple App Store, it would gain popularity, and usage, in a major way.

There are ways to find a decent Android app outside of the Market. AppBrain is a popular place for finding apps. It doesn’t host the apps, but helps you find the good ones and helps you download them from the Android Market. You can download AppBrain on your Android device to sync your apps.

Another up-and-comer in the app-finding game is Sony Ericsson’s Mash-App. At Mash-App you can categorize your favorite apps and recommend them to the Android community. I have used this site a few times and have been pretty happy with it.

Apple has had quite the head start in the app business. It also keeps a tighter rein on its apps. This is, among other things, one of the reasons that Apple has been so successful with its App Store. By strictly controlling all the ins and outs, and presenting them in an easy-to-find way, people are convinced that Apple really has the best apps hands-down. It is also a likely factor in the popularity of iPhone apps among larger firms.

Apple certainly has a lot of great apps. Some of the apps clearly took a lot of work and the end result is noticeable. There are many great apps on Android too. Some of the apps I have found for Android are extremely useful to me. That being said, why is it that I have such a hard time finding decent apps? This is where my title comes back into play. Apps are pouring in by the thousands, yet there is not an adequate filter to sort out the wheat from the chaff. As I look for apps on the iPad, I see that most of the best games and apps are for the iPhone, so I am stuck with an iPhone sized rectangle on a huge background. As I look for apps on the Android Market, I have to scroll, and scroll, and scroll some more to find something of interest. It is hard to search for something if you don’t quite know what you are looking for.

What is the solution to this problem? Better organization. It would be really useful if there was a better way to find the apps you want amid all the ones you don’t. There have certainly been valiant attempts at this, on both sides. It just needs to improve. The Google Chrome Web Store may be the answer to some of these problems, if it is done correctly. Considering Google’s strength in the Search arena, this shouldn’t be too difficult to achieve. Perhaps if Google were to raise the bar, the Android Market and the Apple App Store would follow suit. We can only hope.

What is your favorite method of finding good apps? Let me know in the comments.

Non-Market Android Apps

Wednesday, April 14th, 2010

When I first picked up my Acer Aspire One with Android I have been on the hunt for Android apps. My netbook is not compatible with the Android Market, so I have been stuck with a pretty slim collection of apps. Today I may have hit the Holy Grail of non-Market apps. I stumbled upon it accidentally while looking for something else, but thanks to Android Central I finally have some real apps. I had my kid in a candy store moment today as I installed app after app. I had found a couple sites in the past, so I thought I would go through the whole list and point out some of the better ones.

First up is the Insyde Market. Insyde is the company behind the bios on my netbook, and they had apparently aspired to have a decent app store, a blog, and more. They didn’t succeed. There are a couple of paid apps and a few free ones, but there was not really anything worth downloading. I quickly moved on in search of something better.

Next is the AndAppStore. This was at one point my favorite non-Market app store, as it was far better than anything I had previously found. It even features an app to download other apps. There is a pretty good variety on this site, but there are none of the apps that I have been looking for, like Google apps.

I next found SlideMe. This one was featured on a number of sites, evidently being pretty popular. It quickly took the top spot on my list, but this too was short-lived. SlideMe is also an app store with a downloadable app. I could check for new apps without having to navigate to the site. Considering the trouble it takes to browse in the browser that lets you install apps (not Firefox), the installable app store app is very convenient. SlideMe has several hundred apps, and some of them are pretty good. There still weren’t the Google apps I was hoping to find, so my search went on.

Today was the jackpot day though. The above-referenced post from Android Central has a list of 6 or so main sites, and a few alternatives. The first one was a no-go. Anda.pk got their account suspended by Host Gator. Next was brothersoft.com. This is a decent store. Most of their best apps are featured prominently on the page. I downloaded a Google Buzz app from them. The app was no different than the Chrome app I have on my desktop, but this was the first time I could replicate it on Android. There are a few more apps that look interesting, but I was looking mostly for free apps and moved on.

The next on the list was freefunfiles.com This site looked a little shady to me, so I moved on. I am not saying it is shady, but I just wasn’t as comfortable using it. There weren’t that many apps available anyway.

MobiHand has a pretty decent selection. There are a number of free apps available. I didn’t download any today, but I am not opposed to it. The list is big enough that I will be spending some more time seeing what they have available.

Next up is another app store with a downloadable store app. Handango has a pretty decent app selection. The store app has a featured app on top, and then shows the category list. The apps range in price from free to over $25. I found it interesting that each category was sure to have one or two free apps laced in between the various paid apps. If you are in the market for paid apps, this site will be good for you. For free apps, there are others that are much better, including the next on my list.

The Holy Grail incident happened with Android Freeware. This site was deceptively good. The home page doesn’t look like much, but it does mention the over 600 apps available. Once you start navigating through the site, the diamond in the rough emerges. This is the place I found the long-sought-after Google Apps. I downloaded Google Sky Map, Voice, and Translate. Some of the other Google Apps didn’t work, but considering the problems I already had running Android on a netbook, I didn’t mind so much. Google Maps and Goggles wouldn’t install on my netbook. I installed Facebook mobile, IHeartRadio (Clear Channel’s radio app), and a few other random apps. I spent a lot of time installing app after app. I even found Photoshop Mobile, which I had been denied earlier due to my lack of access to the Android Market. I plan to spend a lot more time with this app store. The selection is really good, and it had a lot of the apps I had really been wanting.

This list is not all there is. There may even be a better app store out there. Obviously the real Android Market will be much better than anything I have found so far. Today’s Holy Grail experience was fun, but perhaps it is just a “Grail-shaped beacon” and the next best thing is around the corner. I am really having some fun with my new apps, and finally have a good reason to stay on the Android partition on my Acer netbook. So long Windows, at least for now. I finally have some apps.