On Friday, Google announced that its Android Market will soon receive a major update. Over the next two weeks, a brand new Android Market client will be rolled out to all devices running Android version 1.6 or higher. For the most part, the update is a user interface redesign that introduces new categories, improved navigation, app content ratings and more. However, there are a few features that will be important to both developers and users alike, including a change to the refund window and additional device targeting capabilities.
While welcome, these updates may not be all Google has in store, only those it's revealing for now. Android Developer Ecosystem chief Eric Chu teases via blog post, "we're not done yet...stay tuned."
For users, the client update will deliver some helpful changes that will make the Android Market easier to navigate and use. Says Google, these include the following:
New Features for Users
- New Carousel on the Home and Category Screens: The new carousel will let you flip through promoted applications and then immediately go to the download page for those apps.
- Two New Categories for Widgets and Live Wallpapers: To better highlight the third-party widgets and live wallpapers, these apps will now have their own categories within the Market.
- Other New Categories: Although light on the details, Google says it will also add more categories for "popular applications and games" in the coming weeks.
- Related Content: The application details page will now include Related content, which will direct users to similar apps.
- App Info on Single Page: Instead of having to flip through different tabs, all app info is now on a single page.
- Content Ratings: Google introduced a new content ratings system for apps, which includes categories like All, Pre-Teen, Teen and Mature.
- Reduced Refund Window: The refund window for applications is now 15 minutes. Google says that the majority of users who request a refund do so right away, so this change won't be noticed by most.
Changes for Developers
Developers should be aware of the following:
- Content Ratings: As noted above, there are new content ratings for apps. ?If developers don't update their apps with an appropriate rating, they will be tagged "Mature" automatically.
- Reduced Refund Window: Also noted above, the refund window was reduced to 15 minutes. Google says this will help developers manage their businesses more effectively.
- Device Targeting by Screen Size and More: Developers can now target devices by screen size, density and even GL texture compression formats.
- Maximum APK File Size Increase: APK files can now be as large as 50 MB in order to better support richer games, says Google.
Are More Updates Coming?
While many of these changes are either user-interface related or minor but welcome upgrades, Google says it's "not done yet" and that the Android Market will be rapidly enhanced for both users and developers in the "coming weeks and months."
These soon-to-launch updates will probably include features like the promised OTA (over-the-air) app installs and Google Music offering, as demoed at Google I/O, but we know many developers are hoping for official in-app payment support instead.