Google has done it again: completely revamped the design of their Android Market. Back in the end of 2010 the Market app was given a green theme and some new graphical changes such as the featured carousel, and now Google have drastically altered the design again to make it more user friendly. The updated market is meant to be rolling out over the coming weeks, though there’s an updated APK floating around on the Internet for those who want it right now.
Does the redesign live up to its potential? Read on for a video preview and my impressions!
When first opening the updated market you will notice the change immediately. Google’s approach with these tiles is clearly meant to be more friendly on the eyes with large images, however its hard not to see the similarities to the Metro UI of Windows Phone. Nevertheless, the experience is vastly improved as it allows for much easier and more fluid browsing. Depending on your country you may see a different start screen (becuase Books and Movies are not available outside of the US yet).
Following suit from previous Google apps like YouTube, you can scroll from one page to another by swiping from left to right. For example starting on the Featured page, a swipe to the left will bring you to the Top Paid page, and similarly a swipe in the other direction will take you to the Categories page. This is a really intuitive way of using an app and makes it much more pleasurable to browse through the new sections like Top New Paid and Top New Free as well as Trending. Google says it is “faster, easier and more fun to discover great apps, movies and books” and from my experience I have to agree.
New Features and Enhancements
Aside from the new Featured page and the updated tiles, embedded within are new sections as well: Staff Choices and Editors’ Choice. There’s nothing hugely innovative about this, and the Editors’ Choice seemed only to contain seven apps (though whether this is because its not official yet or there’s a very selective group of apps chosen I don’t know), yet this is still useful for discovering new apps. I have found the Amazon Appstore’s Editor’s Choice section to be very helpful here, and I hope Google makes theirs just as useful.
Google is also highlighting the quick buying/downloading of apps as one of the main additions or updates to the Market. This can now be done is just two steps. If you look in the screenshots above you can see when you are presented with the app’s page, in the top bar (which is fixed there even if you scroll down) there is a blue button with the price on it; a simple tap of that will bring you to the ‘Accept and Buy’ option. The same occurs for free apps, minus the paying part.
What you may also notice from the screenshot above is the share icon in the top right next to the search icon. Tapping this will bring up the usual options such as sharing it via Twitter, Facebook, Dropbox and so on. This is actually very handy and although this feature did previously exist, it has been made more accessible and easier to use.
Another minor change in the app description has been to the screenshots; previously, they required you to click on them and scroll to see them all, whereas now you can flick through them much like on iOS. It’s not much, but I feel these little things are what distinguishes a user interface from a user experience – it’s what Apple is magical at and its why people love their products; the small details matter
The Android Market went through a fairly heavy redesign barely half a year ago but Google were still unhappy with the low amount of apps being purchased. This redesign clearly aims to make finding and purchasing new apps easier, and to a certain extent I think they have succeeded. They may have ‘borrowed’ a few elements from Apple and Microsoft, but these days it is almost impossible not to have similar features to your competitors. Overall, it’s a great fresh experience and I am loving my time with it.