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How a new app store would help Android

With over two million apps housed within it, the Play Store is Android’s most important resource. But we have to be honest: the mass of apps is rather onerous. Many apps are faulty, do not look good, or have too much advertising. So it often takes several attempts before you find the right app for the task. But what would a perfect app store look like?

The Play Store, the final frontier. It is the year 2016. This is the voyage of the Starship Android, which has been traveling for ten years through strange galaxies, full of new games and innovative applications, amassing a cargo of 2.25 million apps. Far from home, Starship Android has begun encountering apps many light years from usability, dangerously untested. They begin to swarm and overwhelm the ship.

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Exhaust fumes or flatus? / © ANDROIDPIT

The search for the right app within the largest source of Android apps is not fun. For every app that requests one too many permissions and looks to spy on you, there is another that looks terrible and barely works. Others still opt to cover your display in advertising and annoy you with notifications.

Unfortunately, the rating system does not help in the Play Store. Click farms in Bangladesh, India, Egypt and other countries work to provide app marketers five-star ratings: the average app rating is over 4.0. enough to land them in the top ten hits for a search term. It becomes a struggle for legitimate users to counter with one-star reviews.

The problem: in the Play Store many bad apps sit right beside the good apps. While there are alternative app markets for Android, none of them contain all the apps that you will be looking for.

Play Store alternatives

In this country, the Amazon Appstore, with its free Underground department, is perhaps the most popular Play Store alternative. Unfortunately, the number of apps available there is severely restricted: Statista speaks of 600,000 apps. This is partly because the store and the apps contained within it are optimized for Amazon devices that run an outdated version of Android.

The Amazon Appstore has other weaknesses: app updates arrive late and are not installed automatically. Each installation requires individual confirmation. This is because Android lists the Appstore as an unknown source; a Google-made Android problem. The Appstore is also crowded with obvious fakes that are only interested in fishing for your login information.

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Amazon's Appstore is littered with fake apps. / © ANDROIDPIT

At least when it comes to identifying fakes apps, Google is relatively nimble. The automatic malware detection in the Play Store is fast enough to prevent malicious apps from lingering on the shelves. This Applause-sponsored blog post provides a good overview of the security measures found in the Play Store. Even Google's cooperation with independent security companies works quite well. Nevertheless, the fact remains that the Play Store, from a user’s perspective, offers a poor selection of apps.

Each app in the Play Store has to be checked before being published

But a purely machine-based approval process for apps is not good enough. Currently, Google and security companies are working on deep-learning algorithms that accurately analyze the design of apps. For example, if an app requires no interface to access the SMS function, this is already seen as a warning signal. This improves the machine-aided quality control, but will not solve the problem of bad apps.

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The Google Play Store has editors, but you might be hard pressed to tell. Apple (right) is making more of an effort. / © ANDROIDPIT

A good app store has an editorial staff that monitors incoming apps for usability. There are clear design guidelines that app developers have to follow. It would be even better if such an editorial team took drastic measures, which would look something like the following:

A good app store editorial would crack down on low-quality apps

If an app does not conform to the design standards and is not sufficiently user-friendly from the editorial point of view, the app developers have to work to improve the app within a certain timeframe. If they do not, they must sell their app outside of the Play Store.

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The Play Store occassionally has themed pages, but mostly it's pretty dull. / © ANDROIDPIT
A good app store editorial would sort through apps and provide strong, relevant reccommendations

The curation of apps in the Play Store is incredibly poor. It is ironic  that Google knows almost everything about us and yet is comically poor at deciding what apps might be relevant to us. Apple is much better at this. Thanks to lists curated by editorial teams, the app catalogue is easy to browse through across all categories. And even better: the apps are high quality. On Android, quality is always a gamble, and one that rarely pays off.

Huawei’s app store, HiSpace, could be dangerous for the Play Store

With hundreds of millions of customers, Huawei has incubated a Play Store competitor in China that shows tremendous potential. Where Google and the Play Store are not available, alternatives can flourish, and Huawei has been no slouch when it came to creating its alternative, HiSpace.

The Huawei app store will feature editorial oversight, according to the vice president of Huawei’s mobile division, Changzhu Li, like we see at Apple. Apps that do not meet the team’s standard are kept well away from the store. Whether HiSpace will one day come to Europe is not something Huawei is keen to discuss.

But as the market share of Huawei smartphones continues to grow, it seems possible that some Android users could get their apps primarily from a Play Store alternative in a few years. Why should we suffer the slings arrows of outrageous fortune within the Play Store search result if an alternative supplies fewer, higher-quality results?

Eric Herrmann
If there were a good alternative to the Play Store, I'd use it
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Android needs a new Play Store

The number of apps in the Play Store is probably already high enough. If there was ever a goal to surpass the number of iOS apps, that has long since been achieved. Now it’s time to play catchup in quality. Because if the number of bad apps increases still further, the general user perception towards Android will not improve. Until then, iOS users have a powerful argument against Android; Google, with a bit of manpower and a plan, could counter.


Write new comment:
  • tariq 3 months ago Link to comment

    Great article! Totally agree!

  • Ahm AD 3 months ago Link to comment

    Nice Job

  • Is it really worthy?

  • Need to get rid of some of the useless and crappy apps. I don't know the solution, but I get tired of searcing for something and finding 20 apps and only one of them worth the trouble. The problem is that I need to go through half of them just to find the one I want.

  • Yes, I totally would go for a new app store if it offered better services than Google Play Store. When I go to search for an app, it's difficult. I wish there was a better search option with good filters. The suggestions are good but not so great. Like you pointed out, there are mnay low quality apps that are just a waste of time. I think Google Play Store needs serious updates. It is not that fast either.

  • I still think the Play Store is okay really.

  • The Play Store kinda needs what Microsoft did to Internet Explorer: Give a different name to the browser, but with a completely new fresh, faster and updated look to it.

    I do like the idea of an editorial staff always being present. As well as the older bad apps getting deleted from the "new" Play Store but still accessible in the older Play Store tab bar for downloads if one wanted to do so.

    Could this work in theory?

  • I-Dzign 3 months ago Link to comment

    As an owner of both iOS and Andriod devices I couldn't agree more that the AppStore is way better than the play store when it comes to the quality of apps. This is something Google should definitely strive to fix.

  • Alex R. 3 months ago Link to comment

    It does need one But It doesn't need one there should be an updated clean version of what is present already Because it is what it is!

  • prekyap 3 months ago Link to comment

    Good Post
    Far Better than older version

  • iko 3 months ago Link to comment

    Such a good Idea even if while checking new apps you have to wait it would be worth it

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