Google often makes small improvements to the Play Store without any announcements or fanfare, and this appears to be happening with the latest update to the mobile Play Store search engine. Some (but certainly not all) users are seeing quick links to category pages when they make relevant searches on Android, complete with easy-to-spot icons right in the drop-down field. The icons are showing up both for straight searches and for popular related apps.
The user experience on Android is never standing still, which is no more evident than in the Play Store itself. It seems Google may be trying out a new behavior for search queries that match the names of the Play Store's predefined categories. Instead of presenting a list of apps, searching for a term like 'action' or 'puzzle' can bring up structured lists like those that would appear in the category itself.
You don't have to spend much time on the Play Store to see that games are a big part of the service and the platform. Google has already done a lot to highlight gaming with Play Store categories and landing page promotions, but starting in February, developers and end users will have roughly three times as many categories to browse through. The new game categories are as follows:
That's seventeen categories, up from the previous six (Arcade & Action, Brain & Puzzle, Cards & Casino, Casual, Racing, and Sports Games).
With somewhere around 200 apps on my phone at any given time, it can be a pain to scroll through all of them to find what I'm looking for. Categorizing apps into handy folders can also be time-consuming. Fazik Logic takes the concept of sorting your apps one step further however with LiveSorter, a new app that automatically sorts installed applications into appropriate categories.
Adding to the list of LiveSorter's benefits, it has relatively no resource drain as it only wakes when a new app is installed and needs to be sorted.
It's no secret that the Android Market isn't exactly the easiest place to find what you want. Unless an app is super popular, brand new, or you know its exact name, you could end up wandering in that virtual mall like a small child whose mother forgot to tell them she was heading to the next shop.
AppBrain has been a popular way to deal with the poor organization of the Market, allowing users to search for apps in a variety of categories and giving suggestions for programs based on what is currently installed on users' handsets.
Continuing with the numerous Android Market updates, Google just refreshed the categories that users can use to filter and browse Market apps and games. The changes are now live on both the backend Developer Console and the live Market.
Here is a table showing the previous and new categories (new categories are in green, modified in yellow):
Let's face it: browsing the Android Market on your desktop currently sucks. For one thing, there aren't any categories - just "Top Free" and "Top Paid." For another, there's no search!
On your phone, the situation isn't much better - you can search, which is good if you know what you're looking for in advance but you still can't filter those results. And discovering new apps is just downright horrible.