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New Google Play Store design rolling out very soon

Posted by wicked October - 16 - 2015 - Friday Comments Off

Google Play Store update 1

We’re all very familiar with the Play Store. It’s the home of your favorite games and apps and while we’re all used to how it looks and works, just like any other application, it needs some kind of updating too. We’ll soon see a new Android Market/Play Store user interface and design although we’re not sure when exactly.

Kirill Grouchnikov, user interface engineer at Google, has been working hard on this division but he announced recently that he’ll be moving to the frameworks team. He has greatly helped Google work on the Play Store and bring it to its current position in the market. Before his big move, he worked on an update on the Play Store so in the next few weeks, we’ll see the new Play Store design.

Grouchnikov has shared some images of the new Play Store that now comes with stunning animations. We don’t have much details but the images tell us what to expect. Check out those pretty animations as shown off below:

Google Play Store 2015 Animation

So far, we notice the new buttons, icons, more colors, more graphics, and the slideshow cover. There seems to be two major categories: Apps & Games and Entertainment–each having more sub-categories.

The new UI looks very fun. A green bar will be seen expanding right into the status bar. You can still scroll down the page to reveal more information and images. No word yet when the update will roll out but we’ll let you know soon. Or, let us know if you see suddenly see the new design on your Play Store.

Google Play Store 3
Google Play Store update 1
Google Play Store 2
Google Play Store 4

VIA: Reddit

SOURCE: Kirill Grouchnikov (1),(2),(3)

Android continues to grow in the US and dominate the European OS market

Posted by wicked October - 29 - 2014 - Wednesday Comments Off

The Amazing Choose Your Own Android Giveaway

According to Kantar Worldpanel ComTech, smartphone sales from the last three months show that Android is continuing its dominance of the European OS market with a 73.9 percent share, with Apple holding 15.4 percent and Windows having just 9.2 percent of the market. In fact, Android continues to hold a 70 percent or higher market share in many countries.

In the US, Android grew the most with an increase of 4.5 percentage points over the year to 61.8 percent, ahead of iOS which declined 3.3 percentage points to 32.6 percent. Android’s overall share of the Chinese market was up 3 percentage points to 83.4 percent, while iOS was up 1.4 percent, to take a 15.2 percent share.

Kantar Worldpanel shows that iOS market share is barely outgrowing Android across the five largest markets in Europe, growing 1.5 percent year-on-year against Android’s 1.4 percent, but dropping 3.3 percent in the USA. However, Apple’s share in countries like the United States and Japan were lower when compared to the same timeframe last year.


Kantar also found that Windows Phone continues to flop with just a 9.2 percent share of sales in Europe’s big five countries: Germany, Great Britain, France, Italy and Spain. That figure is down 0.3 percentage points year on year. In the US, Windows Phone took 4.3 percent of sales in the quarter, also down from last year.

One of the oddest findings was that Italy seems to be the only country where the Windows Phone is growing with a 1.5 percentage point rise. This gives Windows Phone a 15.2 percent share in the country, second only to Android’s 71.8 percent share.

Should Microsoft give up on the Windows Phone already?

Posted by wicked August - 13 - 2014 - Wednesday Comments Off

WIndows vs Android Windows 8 Android Logo Brand -1

Microsoft admits that its mobile strategy is in “shambles.” In fact, one former Microsoft employee has advice for his former employer: “The real answer is, give up Windows Phone, go Android, and embrace and extend like you did with the Internet.” Granted, it is highly unlikely that Microsoft will simply give up on Windows Phone and move towards Android. But, what exactly can Microsoft do to fix their massive disappointment?

According to industry analyst Chetan Sharma, Microsoft is now quite close to being forced to abandon their Windows Phone due to a complete lack of return on investment. Although the Windows Phone has gained market share in Europe, it is largely irrelevant on a global scale with just a 2.7% of the market. It is not any better in the US with the Windows Phone owning just 1.3% of the smartphone market.

Microsoft has announced plans to cut 18,000 jobs, including 12,500 former Nokia workers, the largest restructuring in the company’s history. The software giant has also indicated it will focus more on Lumia-branded smartphones and growing the overall Windows Phone ecosystem than on feature phones, which it reportedly will discontinue selling. - FierceWireless

Mobile Market Share

Microsoft was incredibly late to the party with their Windows Phone. As Sharma notes, Microsoft did not learn from the Microsoft Zune which (amongst many things) reinforced the notion that the market will punish companies and products for being late into a crowded market. A market that is currently telling Microsoft that despite the amount of money that they have thrown into into their Windows Phone, there is little need or want for another mobile OS.

However, the current data indicates that unless something changes drastically, windows phones might be on the verge of being “zuned out” of the market. And just like Zune, the fault will lie not in the product or the distribution or the marketing but rather in the timing of the market entry. Microsoft might be better off giving up on its device dream and just focus on services on top of the platforms that dominate. It might be time for hermit crab strategy. - Chetan Sharma

In the report, Sharma notes that Microsoft was basically forced into acquiring Nokia due to Nokia’s threat to adopt Android’s OS. Therefore, Microsoft “had no choice but to acquire the beleaguered company that has been just devastated since it picked up Windows as its primary OS.”

“After being in the U.S. market for more than two years with billions spent in marketing and distribution, 1.3% share is nothing to write home about. Microsoft can get better traction in markets where new-subs are entering the ecosystem vs. replacement markets like the U.S. However, what market is telling us is that despite the blood, sweat and tears that have been spent over the past few quarters, there is little appetite or need for another platform.” - Chetan Sharma

Microsoft released their Windows Phone back in 2010. It was late to the party then and continues to be in almost all areas of mobile technology. Although Microsoft has publicly been promoting the fact that their Windows App Store passed 300,000 applications, both Apple and Google Play Store passed 300,000 applications back in July of 2011.

According to Good Technology‘s semi-annual Mobility Index Report, Apple had 67% of total device activations in Q2 2014 while Android had 32%. Windows Phone barely registered at 1%.

good_technology_q2_2014 TheNextWeb

While Microsoft wants to have at the least a 20% global market share, it will not happen with the current Windows Phone. It is 2014 and still Microsoft is having trouble bringing a number of big-time applications to the Microsoft App Store.

It also doesn’t help Windows Phone that they continue to become ridiculously dependent on one phone maker, Nokia. Nokia accounts for more than 90% of all Windows Phone sales. Maybe Microsoft will announce new phone makers. Then again, is there a reason for makers to come running to Microsoft?

As Adrian Kingsley-Hughes wrote at ZDNet:

As far as I can see, the future of Windows Phone is that it will eventually be replaced by Android. In fact – and I don’t make bold predictions lightly – I can’t see a future where Microsoft doesn’t pull the plug on Windows Phone in the next few years and switch to Android. At a time when millions of iOS and Android handsets are being sold every week, Microsoft would need to start shifting tens of millions of handsets every quarter to even twitch the usage share needle. - ZDNet

Source: FierceWireless, Chetan Sharma, GeekWire;

Google needs to tackle its app discovery problem

Posted by wicked April - 23 - 2014 - Wednesday Comments Off

The app discovery experience in the Google Play Store is still frustratingly bad. It is over reliant on a handful of charts which are typically populated by the same small group of apps and publishers. The search functionality is poor, there’s a serious lack of content curation, and it’s impossible to filter results. There are signs that Google is finally addressing this issue, but it could do so much more.


The struggle for indie developers

The app discovery issue is typically reported from the developer point of view. One of the attractive things about the early days of the app revolution was the fact that, theoretically, anyone could make an app, and if it was good enough, it would gain traction. With well over 1 million apps in the Play Store and a number of big name publishers with deep pockets involved, this is far less true today. It’s a problem that was exacerbated by the fact that, for a while, everyone and their Granny thought they could make an app or game and rake it in.

A Distimo report from last year revealed that new publishers accounted for just 3 percent of the top 250 in the Play Store and claimed just 1.2 percent of the revenue. Established names are adept at dominating the charts and they use their existing portfolio to promote their new releases. There are various techniques developers and publishers employ to try and manipulate their way into the charts, some fair and some decidedly dodgy. The charts themselves create a positive feedback loop – the top apps are more visible, so they get downloaded more, so they’re made more visible.

It’s undeniably tough for indie developers and that means we are missing out on some great apps because we don’t know about them. Check out our Indie app of the day to find a few.

Setting developers aside for a moment, there’s another problem here that doesn’t get enough attention. The app discovery experience for us, the consumers, is terrible. Browsing the Play Store is tedious and often unrewarding.

Check out the best indie apps, and if you’re a independent developer, be featured on Android Authority


Problems with the Play Store

Boasting that you have over 1 million apps is all well and good, but the question that’s often posed in retort is how many of them are worth downloading? The answer is a small percentage. All of the apps in the Play Store are divided into just 46 categories and 20 of those are types of games.

If we take the Business section as an example we have 288 apps in the “Top Paid in Business” chart and 540 apps in the “Top Free in Business” chart if you search on your desktop. The same search on my phone showed 284 apps in the paid section and 500 in the free section. The same search on my tablet for all apps, not just “Designed for tablets” showed 264 in the paid section and 500 in the free section. This is presumably listed by straight download numbers, because some of the apps have very low ratings. The difference in numbers probably relates to device compatibility. The numbers shown vary from category to category, but you’re never seeing more than one thousandth of what’s on offer.

Finding tablet apps

Thankfully Google finally added some filtering by adding the “Designed for tablets” section last year, but there is still a problem here for tablet owners. If you search on the desktop site you can see a list of which of your devices any given app is compatible with. Let’s use Zomato as an example, because it tells me the app is compatible with my Nexus 7 and it is, but looking at the app on the Nexus 7 reveals the “Designed for phones” text. Firing it up on the Nexus 7 we find that the app lacks a landscape mode and it’s clearly not optimized for tablet use.


If we jump back to our Business category app chart and use the “Designed for tablets” filter we find just 60 apps in the paid section and 500 in the free section. There is still a lack of optimized tablet apps and it’s disappointing to find an app is compatible with your tablet, but doesn’t deliver a polished experience because it’s really designed for use on phones.

Google’s other recommendations

The top charts show the same apps over and over, many of them span more than one category, but Google has been adding new sections. We also have the New Release charts, which show the most downloaded apps in the last month. Beyond that Google has stirred in a “Recommended for You” section, a “Like recent installs” section and quick suggestions based on your app ratings.

If you look at the app home page you’ll also find bigger charts for “Top Grossing” apps and “Trending” apps. You can find the “Top Grossing” chart in individual categories as well, though it doesn’t seem like a very useful measure for consumers. For some reason the more useful “Trending” chart isn’t there when you drill down into a category.

Lacking the human touch

One of the reasons that there are a lot of poor quality apps in the Play Store and a lack of decent recommendations is that app submissions are not reviewed by humans. The “Our Favorite Apps” section lists just 18 apps and half of them are well known names that appear in the other charts. The “Editor’s Choice” section is a little better with 40 apps, but once again many of them are big names already being promoted in the other charts.


That’s why it’s nice to see Google rolling out the “My Play activity” feed showing your recent shared activity on the Play Store. This includes app ratings and any +1’s you may have bestowed. When you’re browsing apps you’ll occasionally see ratings and +1’s from your Google+ contacts. The trouble is that the usefulness of this depends heavily on your adoption of Google+, but it’s nice to be able to see what friends have been using and what they would recommend. If you click on the contact you can see their complete shared activity list. It’s a small step in the right direction.

It’s easy to criticize, how about suggestions?

Google isn’t going to employ the army of reviewers required to properly screen all the apps going into the Play Store. It would rather use algorithms and our own social networks to serve up recommendations, but there are plenty of other ways that the Play Store app discovery experience could be improved:

  • Advanced search – It would be great to have some advanced search functions, so you could specify things like the size (when you only have data connection and don’t want to download a big app). Even the simple ability to search within a category is missing. Google is the search king; surely it could beef up our search options in the Play Store.
  • Filtering – Google could learn a lot from Fetch. If you could apply filters to refine your search results in the Play Store it would be so much easier to find the right apps.
  • Curation – Apple’s App Store has a lot of the same problems as the Play Store and it’s worse in some respects, but one area where it is markedly better is the specially selected apps that are listed in a wide variety of sub-categories. The Play Store could also use more sub-categories.
  • Natural language search – It’s interesting to note that you can put in natural language queries and choose the Applications tab in Google Now to get better results than you can by searching directly in the Play Store.
  • Independent review aggregation – If the Play Store pulled in and aggregated detailed reviews from professional independent websites we’d be able to get a really good overview. Sadly Metacritic only covers iOS games, there’s a gap in the market for an aggregator of Android app and game reviews. User “reviews” are not always trustworthy, informative, or particularly coherent.

There’s no doubt that the Play Store is far superior to the old Android Market, but it’s still a long way from delivering a really good user experience. What would you like to see Google doing about it?

It seems like it has been much longer than two years ago when the Android Market ceased to exist and we were introduced to Google Play (and weren’t very happy about it). The world didn’t end though, and Google Play has gotten a lot better over the past few years, expanding to offer Google Play Music: All Access, television shows and magazines.

During the birthday celebration, Google is giving us sweet deals for the next 24 hours on select music, movies, apps, and magazines. All of which are going to be discounted for our purchasing pleasure.

The sales don’t appear to be live quite yet here in America (it is live in other parts of the world), but hit the link below start refreshing for when the deals go up. Once it’s up, we will update the post with the full list of what’s on sale.

Play Link

Jet Set Radio grinds its way to Android devices

Posted by wicked November - 30 - 2012 - Friday Comments Off

Sega has released a new game for us that should be received with open arms. For some, this will be all about the nostalgia. For others, a brand new experience filled with cell shaded graphics, police dodging, and tagging anything in sight with just enough spray paint. Welcome, to Jet Set Radio!

The story of this game is that several brightly colored and oddly dressed street gangs are battling it out in Tokyo to see who is the toughest group out there. While many games today would probably address this in the same way, Jet Set Radio did something completely different: battle by way of graffiti. Skating around the city and doing flips of every sort, all the while collecting spray paint cans is definitely a challenge. Add police and a Detective who doesn’t take stuff from anybody, and you have a game that will keep you glued to your device for quite some time.

This mobile version of the game sports high resolution visuals, the same catchy tunes from the original release, and more than 10 playable characters, all with their unique skill set. The only thing we can hope for is an update that will have controller support in the near future. While the virtual controls do work fine, having a real analog stick will make those turns a lot more smoother.

So what are you waiting for? You can find this classic at the Play Store for $4.99. Be sure to have a good Wi-Fi connection when downloading, as this one comes in at just under 600MB.

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Posted by wicked September - 26 - 2012 - Wednesday Comments Off

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Posted by wicked September - 26 - 2012 - Wednesday Comments Off

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