Google adds Seal of APProval to its revamped Market

by Howard Wolinsky

Criticism of Google’s (GOOG) Android Market has been persistent and building. Android Market has been slammed—though some open standards advocates disagree—for a lack of discipline, making it difficult for consumers to discover apps and to be assured about the quality of the apps they download.

It seemed to be the exact opposite of the tightly controlled Apple (AAPL) App Store.

Ryan Kim at GigaOm said: “Android is seeing a load of app downloads to the tune of 4.5 billion so far, according to Google, but it’s sometimes been in spite of the Android Market experience, not because of it.”

But now there’s a new sheriff in Androidland. Google.

Google announced Wednesday it is now trying to do something to help the consumer, along with developers and itself for that matter.

Eric Zeman reports at Information Week how Google “is juicing up the Android Market with features aimed at helping end users and develops alike.”

Google shortly will refresh its Android Market, as it flies past the 200,000-application level, with expectations that the Market will bypass the App Store this year.

Zeman said: “The goal of the update is to increase the visibility of the best applications and give developers (more) credit for their hard work.”

Michael Novak, an Android engineer at Groupme.com, told Mike Isaac at Wired: “Google has definitely heard the complaints from people like me, and these new features being rolled out are proof.”

Zeman said the remake for end-user devices will look and act like Apple’s App Store does on an iPhone.

Isaac said: “For customers, finding the most popular apps may get easier with one of the many new lists Google has added, each detailing the top performing apps in specific categories. The Twitter-esque top ‘Trending’ list, for example, highlights the most-downloaded apps over the past seven days. If an app continues to be among the highest-downloaded over that seven-day period, it will move into either the ‘Top Paid’ or ‘Top Free’ lists, which cover popularity over a 30-day period.”

Kim said this could create sort of a Seal of APProval, but it could pose issues:

“Android isn’t just picking out specific apps, it’s also highlighting successful and consistent publishers. Top developers who have a history of creating quality apps can now be awarded a little icon by their name. About 150 developers are getting that badge. This could create some questions about favoritism and subjectivity if it’s not clear cut why someone is being awarded. Or it could be meaningless if a lot of developers get the honor. But I like the thinking here in giving consumers something like a seal of approval for top app makers.”

Zeman said, “What's not clear is how Google will allow handset vendors and carriers to customize the appearance of the Market, he said.

The goal is better visibility for developers, easier discovery/navigability for consumers and more downloads.