Google is rolling out a new Android Market client over the next two weeks, a move that leaves developers with mixed feelings. Though developers welcome the effort, they say there is a lot of work left to be done.
"I am happy that Google seems to be working on the Market again, as there is a real need for improvement," said Android developer Konrad Hübner.
The updated Market client comes with a new user interface on the home and category screens. It has a carousel that users can flip through to view promoted applications. There are also new categories for widgets and live wallpapers, and the application details page includes related content, which makes it easier for users to quickly find similar applications, according to a Friday blog post.
In addition, Google has cut down the time users have to return applications, from 24 hours to 15 minutes, and has increased the limit on the size of application files to 50MB, to appease game developers.
The new graphics are nice, but Hübner would have preferred longer description text. The reduced purchase refund time is a good thing, according to Hübner. People shouldn't download an app, use it for their needs and then return it later, he said.
Not everyone agrees. One developer has suggested a developer configurable trial period. "24 hours isn't long enough to evaluate my app. For some, it might be too long," writes "Nathan" on an Android developer forum thread.
In addition to longer descriptions, Hübner wants Google to add better download statistics. Currently, it offers almost no reporting at all, Hübner said. Apple has some nice charts summarising daily downloads, split up per region, for example. Google just has one large number.
Google also needs to improve payment processing, Hübner said. Today, developers need to put down every single purchase on the books to comply with financial rules.
"The overhead is unbelievable... Google should do that and just pay the aggregated amount of money," he said.
Android developers also want Google to make changes that address some core issues with the application store. "My issue is that all the changes are cosmetic," wrote "webmonkey" on the developer forum. "After two years they still haven't improved the actual buying experience for users. Orders are declined, downloads won't start and users have no idea what to do"
Some developers are annoyed because the update was announced so close to its arrival.
Google agrees that it has to improve Market further. It plans to continue to rapidly enhance Android Market for both users and developers and make it the best application store for the Android ecosystem, according to the blog post.
For now, the new client will work on Android-based products running version 1.6 or higher.