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Android Market refresh is a welcome one

by Marty Gabel

Google announced yesterday yet another refresh to the Android Market, this time for the app as it appears on your smartphone, rather than the web-based one.

Providing you’re in the U.S. and running Android 2.2 or above, you can expect the new Market to be pushed to your device over the next few weeks. If you’re impatient, there are a few sources out there from where you can download the .ADK file and install it yourself, but this could create issues for some users. Here's a video of their new features:

What to expect

Pretty snazzy, huh? The new update includes a few useful enhancements. Android users will be able to rent movies and videos which can be streamed instantly or downloaded for offline viewing, via the new Videos app. The Market now also has a full e-books section, and rather like the Kindle or Google Music apps, your books are synced across all your devices so you can continue reading where you left off, whichever one you’re using.

It’s encouraging that Google is making its Android Market app a lot more easy to use and is committed to promoting app discovery. In the past, the search has been somewhat clunky, and editorial picks or recommended apps seem to have been a bit of an afterthought or a mishmash of apps with no real reasoning behind why they’re appearing. Now, with editors’ choices, trending and popular apps highlighted, and other recommendations like bestselling apps/games, it’s easier to find what’s buzzing, something we’ve offered via the Appolicious AndroidApps mobile app for almost a year.

It’s simpler than ever now to share apps with friends, and I appreciate the way there’s support for multiple accounts. I also like the way each sub-category has a ‘featured’ page (although it was odd to see FlightTrack as a featured app in the Live Wallpaper section).

Still some way to go

But is all this beauty only skin deep? The Android Market still faces issues with malware apps, search not always being reliable, and other issues. It’s great to see it offering a more approachable interface, and let’s be honest here: it couldn’t get any worse than it was already. But there’s still a little more work Google needs to do to make it perfect. However, a step in the right direction it most certainly is.