31
Dec
google-play-logo

Hey guys, have you heard that 2012 is almost over? Yep! The new millennium is about to be a teenager. It's exciting. (No, the year 2000 is not included, you mathematically remedial cur.) The past twelve months have been fantastic and we'll be hearing more about that later, but one of the things we felt the need to talk a bit more in-depth about is the Play Store. You know the one.

The last year has been hugely transformative for the Play Store. Most notably, it's now called the Play Store! Play Store Play Store Play Store. Let it sink in real deep, because you're gonna be stuck with it for a while, much to David's dismay. Additionally, this year we've seen the advent of movie purchases, TV shows, and magazines. Not to mention the expansion of the Nexus line. In fact, Google only started selling Nexus devices on the Play Store this year. While Google's been pushing apps via its storefront for over four years, it's easy to forget that most of the things we've been taking for granted are relatively new.

That doesn't mean we lower our standards, though! Despite criticisms (lack of international availability, botched launches, somewhat meager content offerings), the Play Store continues to grow at an absurd rate. As 2013 gets underway, here are some changes we'd like to see that could improve Google's content offerings even further. For convenience's sake, I'm going to skip things like "Stop sucking at ordering" and "be in more countries," because those are things that will undoubtedly get better over time.

Let's get started with...

Music

A Subscription Option

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I am aware, Google, that your main competition is Apple. Both with Android and music stores. As much as the tech elite would like to believe that Spotify and Rdio have already taken over the world, it hasn't quite happened just yet. In the meantime, Microsoft is trying to subvert that trend by adding a subscription option to Xbox Music. You know, that app that comes pre-installed with every single copy of Windows 8? Yeah. That one. So, one way or another subscriptions are going to become a standard thing.

This is great, though! I know the RIAA is probably fighting you on this. After all, they're not too thrilled with your opinions on piracy or your role in it. However, buying individual tracks or albums is beginning to become old hat. Not only can users listen to Pandora or Last.FM if they want to relax control over their playlists a bit, but even Spotify offers a free, unlimited (ad-supported) version to desktop users. It's just too easy to get music now. A dollar per song is alright, and your deals on albums are even better, but it's time to offer a monthly buffet option. Don't let Apple beat you to this if you want to gain users.

Playlist Sharing

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It honestly surprised me that this isn't a thing yet. I don't use Play Music too much, and every time I do, it always takes me aback to see just how little it changes. The player is nice enough, and I can find my music quickly. However, if I want to share one of my custom playlists with someone else, this just plain isn't an option. Which is weird, since I can share songs directly to Google+ . In fact, and this is crazy, but if I want to share an individual song, Google actually gives me the option to find a YouTube video which really just does a search for the inevitably illegally uploaded video that we all know is available for every song ever. Yet I can't share a playlist. This seems silly.

Better Discovery

Spotify knows it, Rdio knows it, Pandora knows it. Hell, even iTunes kinda knows it. Discovery matters. Google does not seem to grasp this. I would like it if this were remedied. For my own personal usage, this would be a pleasant addition, but for the health of the Play Store as a whole, it's necessary. Music is more directly and intimately social than just about any other form of multimedia and it's so easy to find new stuff. Aid in this process in a cool way, and you can win bajillions of users (of note: I will go absolutely nuts for some turntable.fm/Google+ integration).

Movies And TV

Digital Copy Deals

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Okay, this is hard for me to write because, on principle, I hate those 'digital copies' that come bundled with movies. I have a problem with the idea that I can't rip a movie to my hard drive the exact same way I can with CDs (as I am legally allowed to do), but should feel grateful (or even pay more!) for crippled, DRM-laden versions of a movie. This bothers me on a much deeper level than it should.

That being said, you know what would be awesome? If Google provided those copies instead. Right now, there are a few different ways that you might find a 'digital copy' in Blu-Ray packages. One of them is an iTunes download, which is great for people who use it, but doesn't help those in other ecosystems. The other is Ultraviolet. The latter is so godawful that I've signed up for VUDU/Ultraviolet accounts roughly 5 quintillion times and still haven't managed to get a single movie to work. Moreover, I just don't trust this company (these companies?) with my movie collection. I'd love to have it tied to my Google account instead.

Google, if you want to build awareness for this service and get people to use it, start talking to studios. Develop an easy system that they can plug into in order to bring movies to users. As of right now, almost everyone who wants to use Ultraviolet has to sign up for a new account, and while there are certainly a large number of iTunes accounts out there, do you know who also has a lot of logins that are ready to be utilized? You do! So, why not talk to your Hollywood friends about letting them in on this action?

Set Top Apps

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There's room for you, too, Google!

The second thing the average user is going to need in order to use this in an everyday way is the ability to actually connect it to their TV. You know how some people complained about not being able to watch movies from the Play Store on their rooted handsets (a problem Google eventually resolved)? This complaint is where the word 'niche' comes from. Of the total number of Android users, a minority of them routinely view full movies on their phone or tablet. Of that group, an even smaller percentage of them are impeded from doing so because they are rooted. Yes, they are a passionate group, but a minority nonetheless.

You know what group isn't a minority? People who like watching movies on their TV in the living room and don't have a PC hooked up to it. These people are completely unable to watch movies purchased from Google via their preferred media consumption method. They could use some help. It might be a little difficult to get a PS3 or Xbox app since both of these companies sell their own content, but maybe El Goog could partner with Samsung or Sony on some Blu-Ray players? Or create a Roku app. LG is already working with the company to put Google TV on some of its sets, so maybe apps could be developed for the rest of its products. Absolute worst-case scenario, though, would be to stop ignoring Google TV. It's just plain contradictory to aggressively sell movies and TV shows, yet leave the most viable platform available to deliver them rotting on the vine.

A Better-Looking Web Player

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Virtual movie theater, or pop-up ad?

Alright, yes, this is a minor quibble, but it bothers me. It's fantastic that YouTube is one of the better video players on the net (and yes, it is one of the better ones... try playing something from Viddler, Vimeo, or one of those proprietary players like the one The Daily Show uses). However, it's also the baseline. The lowest common denominator. It's not that it looks bad per se, but I mentally equate a YouTube embed to everything from low-res vlogs, to Rebecca Black, to whatever the hell this is. So, when I go to the Play Store and click play (Oh my god I just got that!!!) on a movie and I get what essentially looks like a pop-up ad with a YouTube video, I'm not expecting The Avengers, I'm expecting a god awful car commercial followed by ten minutes of Colin Mochrie. This is absolutely the least important thing on the list, but it would certainly be nice to see something a bit more theatrical.

Books

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Um... actually, I think I'm good. The library is easy to use and my position in a book syncs across multiple devices. You can look up the definition of words and translate text from one language to another. Not to mention, the selection is decent and the sales are nice. I mean, for frig's sake, they're currently running a promotion on winter erotica. There are certainly improvements that can be made, and I'd bet most of them are going to come in the form of Kindle feature clones.

X-Ray, as an example, allows you to see the structure of a book and examine how different characters tie in throughout a story (especially helpful for things like Lord of the Rings or Game of Thrones). Maybe Google could implement something like this, but hey, it's already working on knowledge graph integration. This may just be a natural extension. Either way, if the only ways Play Books improve are in selection and international availability, I think it will be doing alright.

Magazines

It's very difficult to argue in favor of improvements to Play Magazines without arguing in favor of improving magazines as an industry. Or, you know, just getting rid of them. However, it might just be possible to save this venue, if we do it right. What are we talking about when we discuss magazines but periodical publications, yeah? So, here are a couple ideas on how to keep things relevant.

More Interactivity

I was inexplicably excited about Play Magazines when it first came out. This makes no sense. I'm a blogger, for crying out loud. I know the value of immediate news, interactivity, and the ability to engage an audience directly, rather than via lengthy and opaque "letters to the editor." It's a relic of a bygone era. You know what's not outdated, though? Touchscreens. Use these.

Now, this is something that can already be done to an extent. Entertainment Weekly, for example, includes scrollable lists, the ability to tap on a headline to jump to a story (which alleviates one of the biggest problems with magazines to begin with), embedded videos, and even the option to go purchase movies or music from within the issue. Most curiously, though, if I do try to buy a film or something, the mag directs me to an embedded web viewer for Amazon's desktop site (on my Nexus 7). Why not the Play Store?

2012-12-30 11.43.08 2012-12-30 11.43.00

Tap on the "Buy movie" button in the left screen and you get the right screen. Missed opportunity (or possibly dev choice) here.

This is a good start, but I'd like to see more. The video implementation is nice, but it requires going to a whole new full-screen section to see. Embedded directly in the page would be cool. Feedback might be another good option. Yes, I know, in the broad strokes of the internet, adding comments only makes things better a small percentage of the time, but even including the ability to update a story with some publisher-selected feedback, or addendums and corrections could at least have the potential to make things better.

Social networking integration could also be good. Make it possible to embed a Twitter feed or links to a publication's Google+ (eh? eh?) account. The whole reason that we see magazines as a dying art is because with the advent of blogs, we can get our information much faster. So, if you want these things to compete, give them more of the powers that the regular ol' internet has. There is no reason that they can't simply be less frequently updated websites.

Apps

Bring Back Developer Challenges

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Last known photograph of the Android Developer Challenge. Historians believe this web page may date back to the 1800s.

Okay, so this is a long shot, I get it. And if I'm honest, yes, it's great that the Android team has been working so hard on providing guidance to new developers with the style guide and education resources. However, you know what was really cool in the olden days? Developer challenges. Back then, these contests brought some of the best new apps to the forefront. Fx Camera, Tasker, and Locale were all hugely popular—and more importantly, distinct to Android—and some are still big to this day. Heck, Google even highlighted Tasker in a mock-up design demonstration to show how apps could look better. Clearly some good came out of that, so why not do it again?

Oh and while we're on the subject of contests and design...

Design Challenges/Showcases

Android faces some unique design challenges in that Google believes a single app should be able to run on any device, regardless of size or use case. This is a double-edged sword. On the one hand it's very convenient for users. One Play Store link is all we need to install it on our 10" slates, our 7" pocket tablets, or our 4(ish)" phones. It's simpler for developers, too, since they only need to update one entry in the store.

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Left: 10" tablet layout, center: 7" tablet layout, right: phone layout.

However, this also puts developers in the uncomfortable position of having to design their apps three times (at least). Possibly more in the future. Google's own Matias Duarte proposed a solution to this problem, back when he spoke with Joshua Topolsky of The Verge. In this interview (starting at around 6:30), he makes the argument that app design should be adaptive. Much like it is on the desktop and many websites, the interface can scale to whatever screen size it's being displayed on, so developers should consider that. In short, good design goes far beyond just using Holo themes.

Okay, Google. So show us. I want to see how this works. Let developers submit their own finely tuned interfaces. Compete for prizes. Update this page. Or, if nothing else, let's see some examples of devs doing it right. The Tasker thing was great. More examples of how the Google team would improve popular apps is good, but samples of pre-existing outstanding achievers is even better. Competitions for 10" tablet designs would be especially welcome.

General Play Store Stuff

Gift Options / Free Codes

The ability to add gift cards to an account was a fantastic step forward. The more ways people have to buy things, the better. Now, let's follow it up with one desperately-needed option: gift / download codes. Steam does this in exemplary fashion. If I want to give someone a copy of a game, it's nothing but an extra button in the checkout process. Similarly, if a developer wants to give away a free copy as part of a promotion, they can hand out a special code, a user enters it into a box, and boom. It's now tied to their Steam account. Not only is this a nice thing to have, but there is a huge market for this kind of functionality. You want some figures to back that up? Okay. How does 10.3 million sound?

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So far, there have been 4 Humble Bundles for Android. All of them occurred in 2012. For those unfamiliar, this particular promotion allows developers to sell their games as part of a pack. Pay what you want and get them all. If you only count the games that were included with the initial iteration of each bundle (and assume everyone pays over the average, which is literally impossible, but go with it*), then 546,675 people (potentially) installed 19 games for a grand total of 10.3 million downloads that would have to be done entirely outside the Play Store. If you've ever purchased one of these packages, you know that it requires you to use a separate app and install APKs manually. Not exactly elegant.

However, the Humble Bundle crew use Steam's game code system in order to add new copies to a user's pre-existing account on the PC side. This is something the company clearly both wants and is capable of doing. There is no indication that Humble Bundles are going to disappear in 2013, and in fact they're likely to gain even more momentum. Without even looking at similar packages from competitors (like the Indie Gala), or promotions from devs directly, there are already millions upon millions of potential installs waiting to be made via this method. It's money — and more importantly for you, Google, data — being left on the table.

* Yes, not everyone paid the above-average price and thus would be short one game, but those that did also received about 3-5 bonus games about halfway through the life of the promotion, so if anything these figures are probably too low.

Please, For The Love Of God, Redesign The Mobile App

Google, I love you. I've been with you since the beginning. I owned the G1, and I remember the Android Market when it was white text on a black background. I know that what you've done with it is very clearly an improvement. It's also not easy, since you've had to build a movie, TV show, book, music, and magazine store on top of what was only supposed to be an app market. Not only that, but you had to have space for the various sales right on the front page of said mega-store, because how else are people going to know what you're offering? It's necessary in order to advertise these new services.

However, the rectangle thing just isn't working. Yes, thank you for getting rid of the entirely superfluous reflections, but there is still a lot more to do. For starters, shoot for some consistency. The following three screenshots are all organizational schemes that you can swipe left and right to see under the Apps sub-heading. Every single page is entirely different from the last.

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Oddly, the one place that the design of the Play Store stays consistent is the one place that it should not. Text color. Light green text on a light gray background is difficult to read. Notably, this is the color that was chosen for the most important bit of information in the right-hand screenshot above: the price of apps. Ironically, if you head over to the Magazines section, you find less needless consistency which is arguably better, but an even worse appearance.

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First off, take a look at the center picture. This is a prime example of why designing for consistency based on theme and not appearance cannot work. If you explore the entire Play Store you will see that the main page for each hub looks a lot like this one (see below). There are rectangles of various sizes with different deals, a Recommended For You section at the bottom, and just below the Action Bar, there is a slider indicating you can swipe left to right. On every single page, the color for all header text matches the product: green for apps, orange for music, blue for books, red for movies and TV shows. Oh, yes, and purple for magazines.

Purple.

No one in any design class will ever teach you that purple text goes well on a black background. Never. Someone must have figured out how to color text properly because, as you can see on the main page (above left), White text is used in the navigation section. And even the Recommended For You header. These look great. Comparatively speaking. While I get the theme you're looking for here, it just doesn't work visually.

However, take the right screenshot of magazines above. Unlike the Apps section, this shows large cover art for thumbnails and black text on a light background. This is good. Or at least better than the alternative. Magazines are an intensely visual medium and here the Play Store deviates from its usual layout to deliver a more aesthetically-appealing menu. It is absolutely okay to divert from a pattern if it makes things look better.

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If you can make this look a little less ostentatious, I will forgive the Fifty Shades recommendation.

The little accents on the sides of the rectangles on the main page are a good idea, but that's about where the color theming stops being helpful. Once I go into the Movies section, for example, I know that I'm looking at movies. Even if I come back to the app later and find myself wondering where I left off, I can usually tell the difference between cover art for Quentin Tarantino flicks and Anomaly Korea. You don't need to bombard me with a ton of bright red text and accents. In fact, in all of these sections, just about anything but text should adhere to the theme color.

The web version actually looks pretty great, and for the most part I have very few qualms with the Play Store as a whole. We all know that international availability and discovery are things that need to be improved and expanded, but that's really more of an all-the-time uphill struggle than it is a specific thing that needs to be implemented. However, the mobile version sorely needs some love, and it's the thing that people are going to use more than anything. Make it pretty enough that users can't help but open it up and find new stuff, rather than grudgingly enter if they have to. It's curbside appeal and it matters.

Wrap-Up

All of this is just stuff that we'd really like to see happen and there is exactly zero guarantee that any of it will. It's also worth pointing out that the Play Store has gotten so much better over the last year that complaining about anything in general already feels a bit whiny. I most certainly don't want to give the impression that we have it bad. That can hardly be the case. Truth be told, just about any smartphone purchased in the last couple years is a miracle device that, even in 2005, we could never have imagined. Life is pretty good.

We won't stop moving forward, though. If the past year is any indication, the Play Store is going to be much more awesome by the end of 2013 than it is now. It will be in many more international markets, it will have more and better content, and it will grow as our portal to everything Google sells.

It would certainly be nice, Santa Google, if some of our wishlist came to pass this year. Please?

Eric Ravenscraft
Eric is a snarky technophile with a taste for the unusual. When he's not obsessing about Android, you can usually find him obsessing about movies, psychology, or the perfect energy drink. Eric weaves his own special blend of snark, satire, and comedy into all his articles.

  • sam

    I would love if google made it easier for developers to improve their apps. They should also pay the developers with best apps.

    • Tyler Lemke

      Pay developers with the best apps? That's a bad idea. First of all, who determines what a "best app" encompasses? Is it adherence to guidelines, unique functionality, good support? A lot of what makes up something called "The best" is personal preference.

      Lastly, developers may start to feel ignored by Google. "My app is great, why aren't I being paid by Google?" If mentality like that started going round, developers may not have any incentives to create great apps, negating the whole idea behind paying them.

  • https://twitter.com/#!/psycho_maniac_ Jerry Lange

    i disagree on the music part. seriously im not playing to listen to my own music

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/author/eric-ravenscraft/ Eric Ravenscraft

      The way the Xbox Music model works is entirely optional. If you don't want to pay a subscription, don't. Those of us that do, will. It's great! Admittedly, it would work for me if Google switched to a subscription instead of adding one, but I think that's a bad move over all.

      • PhilNelwyn

        What I don't understand in your reasoning, is the fact that you ask for a streaming subscription but complain about the cloud-centrism of Google Music...

        • http://www.androidpolice.com/author/eric-ravenscraft/ Eric Ravenscraft

          What? Where did I complain about the cloud-centrism of Google Music? I love it! I acknowledged in another comment that sometimes it can have an adverse side effect (where, for example, the default assumption is that you want to stream music rather than download it), but that's the the farthest thing from wanting Google not to do cloud-centric things.

          In any case, options are exactly that. Optional. Google could add a subscription option to Play Music and no one could be required to use it. That would be great. That's exactly what Microsoft has done. If it's non-intrusive, it's almost always fine.

          • PhilNelwyn

            Ok.

            It confused me to read that you "prefer to have music downloaded locally" and that it's "yet another symptom of Google's cloud/search-centric mentality."
            That didn't sound cloud-friendly at all.

            Thanks for the clarification.

    • TheWhiteLotus

      adding a subscription is fine. the whole point of it being a subscription is that it ISN'T your own music...

    • Chris

      Agree. I still want to own it if I suddenly decide to stop subscribing.

  • mechapathy

    The app section of the Play Store definitely needs some Google search magic. Still. App discovery is still pretty pitiful.

  • http://twitter.com/mxpwr4 Steve Bennet

    How about better search options? Like filtering by price, for starters. Also, the ability to edit your list of past apps easier.....like check boxes to select several, then install them all or delete them from the list

    • Joseph Cascio

      Yes!!And also a must for the new play store is the option to see only paid apps that I have bought.

  • Alex Joppie

    Agree books is good, but I wish it allowed importing like music. It's not like it's hard to come by legit epubs

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/author/eric-ravenscraft/ Eric Ravenscraft

      Oh man. Yes. This is definitely something I would love. The ability to import other book formats or PDFs would be awesome, and is the only reason I haven't just completely forgotten about Aldiko.

    • John O’Connor

      There was a huge interest in a paper-ebook conversion awhile back, a few of our local libraries (who goes there anymore) actually had a free trade of book for ebook services.

      I would #@$ a brick if i could get my vast collection of "real" books into an electronic format and would even be willing to pay a nominal fee for such a trade-in/conversion program

  • xriderx66

    The reason the text is green is because your brain automatically thinks "happy thoughts" when it sees colors such as Green (that shade) , Yellow, light blue etc.
    The more you know..!

    • http://AndroidPolice.com/ Liam Spradlin

      I'm really skeptical about this. If you have a link to a paper about it I'd love to read more, but my general understanding is that this notion is approached by most with - at least - incredulity, especially because colors do not themselves have meanings that span across cultures or even languages.

    • TheWhiteLotus

      pseudoscience ftw

    • Tony

      If you were right every website would have green text, but it's ugly so no. Green is a great color just not for everything :P

      • xriderx66

        I didn't say green was the ONLY color that brings the "happy" emotion.
        There's reasons as to why you don't see Google with a black background and the logo with dark red and dark blue shades.
        Color Psychology.
        Learned a bit about it in college.

  • http://twitter.com/Twitteninja ZZ

    My opinion of the design of Google Play is the exact reverse, I find the app OK, its the website which needs serious work. The way pagination is currently handled requires too much meticulous clicking, and the visual hierarchy isn't as clear as it could be. It hasn't even been updated to use the current version of the Google Bar so it even looks old.

  • Tony

    You're wrong about google books, the app itself NEEDS a way to import your own books just like google music app allows you todo with your previously owned music, it's the reason the rating for the app sucks so much(that and not being able to uninstall it). Then the dictionary support sucks, it's only online that you get word definitions and then when you hold on a word you dont get to see the definition you have to swipe up to see it which annoys the hell out of me. Then on the play store the book reviews only show you like the first sentence you have to go over to Good Reads freaking website to see the full users review. And there needs to be WAY easier way to browse the books in the play store, feels like they just brought the top 200 books and left the rest for all us to have to type in a search for..should be better discovery. I do agree with all the other improvements listed, just pissed me off you said the books app is good(I suppose if you don't use it that much it wouldn't be a big deal).

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/author/eric-ravenscraft/ Eric Ravenscraft

      Whoa whoa whoa. Okay. Chill. I actually *do* use Books. All the time. It's my favorite reading app and I use it more than any other Play app. It's great for me. If it's not great for you, then by all means chime in. Another commenter also suggested the ability to import books and I agreed with him heartily.

      You know what he didn't do, though? Tell me how obviously WRONG my opinions are, and how PISSED OFF he is that I would say things that don't perfectly line up with his experiences. I actually went through and used all the features that were available. The dictionary thing was cool to me. I thought it was odd that it didn't pop up immediately, but then I remembered how often I accidentally put my finger on a word while reading and that I'd accidentally call it up a lot. This seemed like a nice way to avoid accidentally throwing a card at my face. "It's a little extra swipe, no big deal." I thought.

      As for the full reviews problem, they likely only show you an excerpt of reviews because they've gotten the pants sued off of them for pulling entire reviews from other sources before. Ask Yelp if they would like Google to publish entire reviews on its services instead of providing links. This is part of living on the internet.

      I'm sorry that you disagree with what I wrote, but that doesn't mean that getting pissed off at me because I have a different experience than you do is going to help. Seriously. Just speak your mind and be cool.

      • Tony

        That's fair, sorry if it felt like I was attacking you personally, not what I intended. I'll keep it friendly :). Good point on the accidentally putting finger on a word and popping up didn't think of that but still feel like they could put the full def at the very bottom it doesn't have to be in the middle of the page. And I realized the sueing them, I guess I just wish they'd either cut a deal with them or not show them at all(tip: if you click the actual "goodreads" text it takes you to the actual review just a bit of a hassle).

        • Tomi Golob

          Go f$#@ yourself... sorry if it feels I am attacking you personally :D

      • John O’Connor

        Eric, I too love the books app and it is my favorite go-to reader, the only qualm i have is making the menu options appear. if i try a short tap it will flip the page 50% of the time and the other 50% will bring up the top menu bar.

        there must be an easier way - i prefer to swipe the page, tap for menu, hold for context popup (at least that in theory is how it should work, right?)

  • Tony

    Have you guys seen the app store for the iPhone lately? I recently checked it out and it's so bad I hope they don't take any of the "only show 3 apps on an entire screen" design from them, love the 2 apps per column we have now, but other then that yes it's needs a little more sex appeal.

  • Tony

    Oh also how could you forget the tablet support for play store, there needs to be more then a top 10 tablet apps, you should be able to have a separate mini-store with only the 10,000 or whatever designed for tablet full screen(yeah they'd have to do the apple thing and make sure themselves but the store itself would still be open). Also they need a mini-store of only android 4.0+ apps so I don't have to check every app screenshot to see if it's one that has the stupid menu-button still.

    • Tony

      Maybe not so much a mini-store(within the main store) just an advanced filtering option is all I ask.

  • JensAstrup

    As a design student, I love how you analyzed Android. Hopefully they listen to some of this. Also, am I the only one who finds it annoying that in order to sync your entire music library to your phone, you need to individually select each album? Drives me bonkers. I want a "Sync All" button.

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/author/eric-ravenscraft/ Eric Ravenscraft

      I think that's yet another symptom of Google's cloud/search-centric mentality. While streaming things from the cloud is great, I usually prefer to have music downloaded locally because...well...I have Sprint. I have the same problem with Spotify. I can only download playlists one at a time. It's cumbersome. The idea, I guess, is that you rely on streaming for everything and the local downloads are the exception, rather than the rule. Sometimes it just doesn't work that way, though.

    • White Pawn

      You can do this: Create a dummy playlist; Add your entire library to the playlist; Select the playlist to be available offline on your device.

      • JensAstrup

        That's what I've done but a) it requires adding new music to that playlist instead of just having it sync by itself b) is an unnecessary step

        • White Pawn

          You are right. This is only a workaround solution at best, until a real solution comes up.

  • Tom

    as a movie nut with 2 kids I would love to see the ability to share a purchased movie or tv episode a limited number of times.

  • anscarlett

    The play store really need options to allow me to filter out the crap I never want to see. Allow me to block certain authors showing up for a start. For media, I want to block at least by Artist and Genre. OPTIONAL notification of new releases by developers I have installed from before

    Grouping similar(Identical apps) If an "App Developer" publishes 100 Identical clocks with a different background, I should only see one version (That should also happen in the widget drawer. One app, one widget)

    More stringency with the categorisation of apps. If I search by keyword in the game category I get hundreds of LWP results. Similarly, the LWP category should ONLY contain LWP's

    Next on the list is more specifics about the word Free. A 7 day trial is not free. A service that requires subscription is not free. This should be in the app list, along with star rating(the stars should always be accompanied by number of votes and number of installs)

    Also, custom wishlists and mass organisation of them. If I remove an app from my all apps list, I get put back at the top of the list. I should be able to mass select and move, delete, mark as useful on specific devices, mark as apps I want auto installed on new/cleaned devices

    Hope someone from google reads this as some of these things really bug me ;)

  • Chris

    I want Google to make a TV platform for cord cutters. I get that Google TV is not intended for that, and thats fine. But it would be nice to have a stripped down Google TV set top box that runs Netflix, Hulu Plus, Amazon Instant Video and Google Play content seamlessly. That set top box should be a dumb box similar to the Nexus Q. Just show a stupid animating logo or something. All of the navigation should be done on a tablet/phone app that lets you search across all of your subscribed services seamlessly.

    • John O’Connor

      maybe we will see this in the Nexus Q2? I think the premature launch of the original should have its act together for the next round

  • guyfromtrinidad

    How about an expansion of the play market to way more countries. I would love to purchase music, and movies on and books. I know this isn't entirely Google's fault but I can dream

  • kindrudekid

    how about google book detecting and opening locally downloaded ebook and syncying it just like amazon kindle you can store your own mobi on /sdcard/kindle and it will detect it in library and if that same file is present on other device or PC it syns the last page across....

  • Falconator

    I would love to press the apps button and see only applications instead of mixing it with games. Yes, games are technically "apps" but it is its own category and I'd like to have that separation of apps and games when searching for what's hot and what's not.

    I'm happy Google made there own song search widget https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.google.android.ears and its simple/free.

    Overall...redesign the mobile app definitely!!!

  • http://twitter.com/anjiecai anjiecai

    How about updating some apps like Google voice? Add an option for themes in the core apps ( light holo, dark holo, etc.). Google Voice seriously needs some love, at least make it work properly?

  • John O’Connor

    I would love to see integration if you have multiple accounts on your device. i have a personal and work gapps account. many other may have other google accounts associated with their own businesses, websites, etc. but i find it a pain sometimes when i purchase a book or music and realize i purchased it on the "wrong" account. which means i need to switch accounts to figure out where that book i purchased went.

    don't get me wrong it seems to be getting there (i.e. if i swear i purchased an item (book, movie, tv show, magazine, etc) previously, it will tell me i already purchased this under my other xxx@gmail account

  • FadyMahfouz

    How about making the paid apps available in more countries ?

  • TechGuy21

    My problems with google play still is that when you go to games it shows apps as well. For God sake I'm looking for games . It does the same with apps too. Search is painful. And the ui needs redesign. Oh apple app store is the worst. But they have apps. Google needs more tablet apps. Force all devs to make apps optimize for my nexus 7 and soon to have nexus 10(sold out still )

    • Zach Latta

      The only reason apps would be in games and vice versa is if the developer set their app to the wrong category. Here's a screenshot from the developer console for that option: http://i.imgur.com/CG7Ej.png

  • lukic

    I hope they expand paid apps availability and that they'll bring them back to Serbia. It's been a year since they banned as without any explanation. I bought Android phone and I signed two year contract and now I can't buy any good apps. It's a waste of money.

  • Ed Baker

    It's Google, why is there only keyword search for apps? Seriously, why can't we search reviews, ratings, sales, refunds, etc. You know that Google can search by these methods. The name rarely tells me what the program does (I.e. Xbox smartglass.)

  • cannon

    They need to integrate Google hangouts into the dialer its awesome but why do I need to use g+ just to use it why do I need a third party app to do video calls hello google

    • http://www.facebook.com/anibal.perez1 Anibal Perez

      Third party apps for video calls is the fault of the providers here in the US, they don't want us using it unless it's some crappy app they decide is cool to use, and Google still has to play by their rules, somewhat

  • crimsonram

    5 things,

    1) IAP is killing apps. They need better abilities to monetize there apps. But I think Devs still think that Android is a a bunch of people that cannot pay 6.99 or .99 for a game.

    2) Purge 1 or 2 star apps. from the store. That will clean up the trash.

    3) Look at what Ouya is doing..... They really need to work with them and standardize and take design Ques from them. Some of the things look very sweet.

    4) We need more big ticket games like Soul Calibur or other games that can bring out the power under hood that is being put in the phones these days. Tegra 3 or Quad core processors are fine but if they do not have graphic games like Soul Calibur and such.... that is just a waste of power.

    5) Working with Students and Faculty like i do at my job. I see the Touch Wiz or HTC's Equivalent front ends need to be reigned in. Google needs to make the companies to go with a standard setup and just build around it. You do not know what is available with HTC, Motorola, or even Samsung. They can be different. Apple is not a innovator but look at the standard build on their phone OS. It just works but if you have 5 Cell phone developers doing 6 different things it makes for a utter mess.

    • Chris

      this is about the play store, not about Sense or touch wiz

  • Ittiam

    Great Analysis....

  • crimsonram

    One other thing. Why don't being places like Android Central or Android Police reviews of games to the forefront.... And work with AP and AC for there app lists

  • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

    Books: I have a huge gripe about the Books app. It takes ages for it to re-open books I'm reading (the dreaded Loading just sits there - what the hell are you loading? A PDF reader can do it in a split second). And sometimes it completely loses its cache. The app works great when it does, but the aforementioned issues are infuriating when they happen.

    Does anyone else have these?

  • Atila Janosi

    Play store mobile client:
    Seriously you don't want any updates to its search engine? Now the search is looking up keywords only in the title of the app, how about expanding this a bit? Or the ability to search only for free apps or to set a price range? Or only to search within a category? Not to mention the missing purchased list...

    The major part of your list is not interesting AT ALL to international users...
    For us it is still just an APP store, and they should first improve that.

  • KRS_Won

    Great ideas.
    Also, the ability to look up "Sales" like when you type in "Specials" in Foursquare.

  • Darren Krusi

    You've put everything that I feel frustration with the Play store into words, thank you. Also It would be nice if the front end changed weekly or fortnightly and I could share my magazines with friends just like you do in the real world where you give someone the magazine to read after you are finished with it or just articles of particular interest to people. It would help to push magazine uptake if anything.

  • DeadSOL

    All of you writers at Android Police are amazing! I love reading your articles! Please rant on at least once a week. I sure hope that Google is watching and taking notes! :)

  • http://profiles.google.com/ondrej.vagner Ondřej Vágner

    What I want from Google for 2013?

    Well, some content would be nice, but then again, I'm still waiting for stuff from 2011 to show up here, so I'm not really holding my breath.

    I could also go for more ways to pay for stuff, because I can't pay online with my card -- and I have no intention to have it enabled (because then it would be "Goodbye paycheck!" every month).

    More settings -- the Play Music settings consist of Credits and Open Source License. That's not settings! That's "About" page.

    Better control over location awareness -- just because I like my interface to be Czech (whether Android itself, the apps, or Google web apps) doesn't mean I want the content to be Czech as well. I can get content in Czech offline.

    So, yeah. Get to it, Google.

    Signed,

    Disgruntled Google Enthusiast from Outside the US

  • rap

    Lots of great ideas both in the article and the comments. One more for the app store is I would like to find out more information about why an app isn't compatible. Is it a root issue? screen resolution? Android version? Sometimes apps that were compatible are suddenly not and I'm not sure why.

  • spigott

    my main wish is that google play expands to all countries (with all store functions e.g. books, music etc.)

  • cooldoods

    What I'd like to see is the Play Store with Books, Music, Movies, Magazines, etc in more countries, specifically Asia.

  • JillB

    What I'd love to see is the possibility for those of us in other countries to get movies and books in their original language. I'm a native English speaker living in France, and all (non-French-made) movies and books are translations into French. I speak excellent French, so that's not the problem, but I just can't stand the translated versions!

  • Dinofan01

    My biggest hope? High quality images. Pretty much every cover art whether it's an album cover, movie poster, or book cover looks low quality. A high resolution display is pulled down by low quality images. Even public domain books have awful looking blank color covers (as seen in an above screen shot). I really love what they did for the Alice in Wonderland, Great Expectations, and Pride and Prejudice covers that came with my Nexus 7. Original art for these book covers would make me actually want to keep these copies of shakespeare in my collection. Even Play Music's scan and match gives low quality album covers. Why does everything have to look so bad?!

  • John_Merritt

    1. Force ALL lazy devs to update their apps to work with newer devices/Jellybean - Here's looking at you Gameloft, EA, etc..

    2. Force ALL devs to disclose whether their apps have a iAP system in place. Add a sub-menu to the right-hand side menu with something like "iAP system" then under that just a Yes or No. I don't mind if games use iAP, I would just like to know if they use them so I can avoid them. And saying they're "Free" can be misleading.
    Devs like G5, for example, should then be made to reveal the iAP price in the store, rather than 1/4 of the way through the damn game.

    3. A better "search" system for apps. I mean, comeon for godsake, you are the No.1 search engine and your app store search is diabolical. How about "search in games", then a sub search like Arcade, Puzzle, etc... Then the ability to sort by upload date, or do a complete overhaul of the "sort by". How *&*$-ing hard can this be ?

    4. Get rid of Google+ for leaving feedback. It has NOT stopped the trolls, or the 1-star trolls, yet you force your users to use your g+ crap. I stopped leaving feedback the moment you started this.

    5. Increase the amount of time you have to request a refund. A lot of newer games take longer to download then the 15mins you give us to get a refund. If this isn't possible then add a option, when refunding, to explain why we needed more than 15 minutes.

    6. Force devs to reveal the size of the "extra data" we need to download in-game. I just purchased Zombie Driver THD, it's in-game download was 890Mb, yet nowhere did it specify this. And even though it's requirements are 1Gb space, this doesn't always mean a huge download - a lot of games unpack the data after downloading - so the download is smaller.

  • michael interbartolo

    I actually have had no issues with Ultraviolet(between codes, disc2digital converts and purchases I have 65 movies in my locker), but it would be great if Google Play supported it (after all UV already uses Google's WideVine DRM). right now I find myself buying more from Vudu/Cinemanow than Play because the UV movies can be watched on my inlaws smart tv when we visit, I can share with my brother in laws on his xbox360 and the kids can watch on their tablets as well as our googletv. It would be great if Google did like Cinemanow where I put a dvd in the computer it recognizes it and allows for $5 me to get a HD streaming version (basically a per dvd upconvert movie match) Do I trust Flixster, MGO, Vudu or CinemaNow as much as Google no, but since everything goes to the UV locker I figure at least one front end will stay in business so my collection is safe.

  • Jon Garrett

    my biggest complaint since switching from iOS to Android is how messy the Android store is.

    1. why cant I find apps!!! WTF is this Google? an app that I know is there cant be found sometimes.

    2. why is there no newest apps section. 99.99% of the time I found out about new apps from 3rd party sites and word of mouth--sometimes, weeks later I see it featured in the Android store.

    3, FORCE devs to update their apps like apple does. why do apps for 4" screens look the same on my note's 5.23" screen? I have only one app (Real Player) that has high res images.

    4. DO SOMETHING about your table apps section !!! YOU GIVE APPLE TROLLS the impression that there are NO tablet apps !! iPad tablet apps are nothing more than updated iPhone apps with higher res images to look good on a larger display.

    5. I really would like to be able to download copies of .apk to my desktop so I can keep "hard copies" of my apps--similar to iTunes.

    6. Google needs to update its own apps as well !!! why would Google expect or hope devs would make tablet apps when they themselves don't have separate tablet apps of their own apps !!

    • donttrollmepeople

      1. use the search.
      2. click apps. scroll left and top new free and top new paid and trending show up
      3 its not googles way to force.
      4. tablet apps are growing. and you are wrong about what an ipad optimized app is. as far as high rez pics are concerned. they did that when the i4 retina came out. they asked for devs to update their pics to png files. which are scalable without losing sharpness. and they didnt force the devs either. the devs immediately did it on their own. an iphone app on the ipad is nothing more than a 2x scaling anyways.
      5. if there is no way to do that. it is probably becasue they want to limit your ability to give the app to other peeps. a stock phone will sideload paid apps. but there is a way... because the apks are all over the web. just download em.
      6. google does have a few tablet optimized apps.

      and lastly. notice how i said all of this without feeling the need to shout., much less shouting over crap that can be easily rectified.

      welcome to android.

      • John_Merritt

        1. Broken.

        2. Top new is NOT very latest, it's only the top rated.

        3. Yes it is. It's their app store, their rules, so start enforcing some rules.

        4. You have no idea what you are talking about.

        5. You make no sense whatsoever.

        6. A "Few", thats just it.

        >>>and lastly. notice how i said all of this without feeling the need to
        shout., much less shouting over crap that can be easily rectified.

        No shouting, then neither did the OP, Yet YOU post like some arrogant asshole.

        • Brian P.

          You were school. Take the construtive criticism and learn from it!

        • donttrollmepeople

          arrogant a-hole is often the easiest way to get a point across in as few words as possible. you had quite the list and it i am volunteering my valuable time to help you out.

        • Jon Garrett

          +1

      • Jon Garrett

        1. Search does not work. Ive searched for apps that I know are in the market but search pulls up everything--but. search also pulls up mostly garbage apps that done even have anything to do with the app I'm searching for. like another user said, Google is the world leader in search engines yet their own Market is a mess.

        2. I shouldn't have to click, scroll or search. new apps just be listed right where they can be seen. if you were a developer, I'm sure you'd prefer it that way.

        3. Google needs to force some things. Quality Control is one of them.

        4. Tablet apps are NOT growing, I got my Galaxy Tab 10.1 on launch day. going on almost 2 years later, the same apps are there today as in summer 2011.

        5. Of course there's a way to do that. If Ive purchased an app I should have the option to download it as well. have you never heard of "click here to download"?

        6. "Few" my point exactly. why not ALL. lead by example. you want developers to make their apps tablet optimized but you wont---and its YOUR store!!! what the hell is that?

  • donttrollmepeople

    i would lioke to see tabbed browsing in the play store. seems like it would make things much easier for peeps like the guy below me. you really do have to 'want' to explore the playstore to find sections. aside from that.. i could care less about everything said above. no offense eric, but i think the playstore looks pretty good.
    what i would like to see content-wise in the playstore are gadgets that can be used with your cell phone. as in wifi enabled plugs/switches and bluetooth/nfc door locks, nfc tags etc. apple was right when they took in the led light bulbs. hopefully that will grow into something thats trending so others will follow in suit.

    • Chris

      just add items to your wish list, or may be have a "cart" where you add bunch of apps and then download them all at once/buy them if they are paid.

      • donttrollmepeople

        yah. switching roms is the biggest pain when it comes to putting your apps back on. i can delete multiples but cannot install them. its a total pain. and i know tb will do that but installing backups have also caused me problems within the app data on a new rom so i choose not to go that route.

  • Chris

    For the whole scaling of apps. I prefer the apple way to be honest. Yes it can be a mess, but having own an ipad and an android phone (ipod touch a few years ago) I have to say having a app designed for a screen, and not just scaled up is better. Make use for the space...

    As for the other changes. I like to see the google play store app (Ver 4.0 or make it 5.0 to match android 5.0) rebulit from the ground up. Using the new holo design while keeping the color coded sections. I like to see a list of my apps that have updates with an "update" button next to each one and an update all button. Also a way to view what was updated right off the batt with out needing to go in to the apps page. Just make it look nice and not the cheesy cheep look it has now.

    Work out deals with more networks. Fringe may be ending in a few weeks, but I still want it on my phone. in HD of course. I have the season pass on itunes, but that damn DRM stops me.,.

    Podcasts

    advanced search (ie; search by "free apps" "paid apps" "most popular" "newest" etc

  • http://twitter.com/ToysSamurai Toys Samurai

    For god sake, please find a way to sync my game progress across multiple devices (when I choose to.)

    And, what the heck has Google done to the acquisition of Slide?

  • Ranger666

    How about password protect; even for the free stuff. I've had my kids download some crap, hell, even my friends would install some crap just to mess with me.

  • Joel Dinis

    I'd like to see DLNA options on the Music and Video player.
    Specially since everything is now hold in the cloud I'd like to stream my music from my cloud, using my phone to my Hi Fi system, or Smart TV, or even another computer or phone if I want to.
    I know I can use 3rd party apps but that means having to copy the actual files onto my table or phone. And you can't easily due to that Play Music.

  • http://twitter.com/havens1515 Randroid

    For the record, I'm pretty sure that crazy pizza video uses a song by Daler Mehndi. (Search Tunac Tunac Tun to find his most popular/viral song.)

  • https://plus.google.com/u/0/108482452903817442299/posts Andrew Bone

    I agree with everything apart from the need to redesign the play store, I like it =)

  • Richard Romanowski

    The abiltiy to batch install apps using "My Apps" after a re-flash, or a factory reset, or just a new phone. Clicking twice for every apps, then pressing the back button is waste of time

  • http://twitter.com/calds29 Calvin D’Souza

    PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE bring google services to more countries.