Feed-addicted news junkies have another reason to hit that "Tap to update" button. Google appears to be testing a change to the fickle feature-foisting framework which provides expandable topics filled with more articles on a given news category, accessible via the labeled tags above each.
Google has been testing a ton of changes on the Play Store recently, both in the app and on the web. It's been a mixed bag, with some good new features such as initial release dates for apps, and some not so popular design choices. We've now received a couple of tips about another new element appearing — a 'Discover something new' card.
42matters is an analysis firm that monitors broad trends on mobile data, specifically on the Play Store and the App Store. The company is mostly B2B, that is, most of their products are only helpful if you're working on some other aspect of the mobile market. But they've made a sliver of the data they've collected through their API free to the public, and it's fascinating. While the 42matters data isn't official, it does give us an interesting look into the Play Store as a whole.
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 Play Store search has had integration with categories for a while now, so expect the interface tweak to appear for you sometime in the next few weeks.
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.
A search from the top level of the Play Store still pulls results from each of the major stores, as it should; but tapping into the apps section from those results or starting the search from anywhere in the Android-related portions of the store can redirect to the category-oriented view.
Switching from the old list of just six categories to an expanded 17 (which contain the original six plus more specific sub-genres) would be a boon to both Android users and developers. Currently searching for general apps on the Play Store is an exercise in frustration - for example, a Blackjack game under the new system would go in the Casino category rather than the far, far more general "Card & Casino" category currently in place, which is where everything from card battle games to memory matchers needs to be placed at the moment.
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. At the moment the app only recognizes apps from the Android Market.
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. Today, AppBrain added a new category: apps that use in-app billing.