Searching for an app in the Play Store can be a bit of crap shoot, which is odd when it's run by a search company. Google just added a new filter to the web Play Store that lets you restrict results to only those apps with 4 or more stars. That should clear out a lot of the junk.
Earlier this month an update to the Play Store began rolling out with a brand new ratings widget appearing on the main landing page and within landing pages for each major section (Apps, Movies, Books, etc.) The simple card encouraged users to give a score of 1 to 5 stars on a previously downloaded (or claimed) item in exchange for some suggestions about similar items they might be interested in. While this seemed like a relatively innocuous addition, obviously intended to drive additional downloads, it seems to have had a unexpected negative effect: Several developers are reporting a drastic rise in 1-star ratings on otherwise successful apps.
One of the truest shared experiences between people who create anything for public consumption is a ravenous desire to know how many people are using it and what they think. Just ask most bloggers and web developers, and you will hear how much they love the real-time statistics from Google Analytics. Unfortunately for app developers, there really isn't a great way to keep fresh information in front of our eyes without mashing the F5 key while staring at a web browser.
IMDb is already one of the most awesome movie apps on the market. With the world's largest and most popular catalog of who's-in-what and which-came-out-when, IMDb has single-handedly solved that whole "I recognize his face, but what was he in?" problem. Today, it's getting even better by adding support for the oft-forgotten IMDb message boards, providing recommendations based on your movie tastes and, perhaps best of all, Metacritic scores.
The Metacritic scores are perhaps the most exciting, as the site is one of the better opinion aggregators out there.
Way back in the day, if you wanted to know if a piece of software was safe, reliable, or usable before you opened the package, you were out of luck. Once you rip that shrink wrap, you're stuck with it. The app markets of today are, by comparison, a breath of fresh air. A litany of user reviews let you know up front if a piece of software is crap or not before you download.
Friday seems to be the Android web Market team's favorite day to release new features, no matter how incrementally small they may be. Today is no exception, as the web Market now includes a neat little breakdown chart of application ratings on each app page, together with a prominent average score. Have a look at the ratings for the Facebook app, which got an update today:
Every little bit counts, so thanks for this pre-weekend present, Google!
- reviews for places now contain more detailed ratings of individual qualities, such as food, service, selection, atmosphere, value, and more
- public transit stations now contain schedules, making half of the public transportation apps out there instantly obsolete, especially considering that Google Maps on Android supports getting directions via public transport
- adding friends in Latitude, which is Google's version of foursquare, is now very easy - in fact some of you (*cough* @Stericson *cough*) have been doing nothing but adding Latitude friends all day
Overall, excellent update, Google!