Petition: Google, please improve the Android Market.
Google and the OHA officially released the first version of the Android platform in October of 2008. It was accompanied by the Android Market, Google’s equivalent of Apple’s App Store, for developers to publish and users to download applications.
The first version of the Market was very basic. Five versions of Android came out, all of them with lots of new features for users and developers – but almost nothing happened on the Market side.
We, developers of Android apps, feel that the current Market is not what it could and should be, and is not on par with other application stores like for instance Apple’s App Store.
We have the impression that so far the Market App and the Developer Console are not amongst Google’s top priorities.
That’s hard to understand because we think that in fact apps are the most important part of the platform and the Market is of course the place to get and distribute them.
So far we’ve had no indication whether Google is working on improving the situation. Many questions on the official Market channel are unanswered.
An important aspect of this is that we are paying 30% of our app revenue for the service. We feel this amount is inadequate with the Market in its current state.
That’s why we made this list of features that we think are urgently needed, and we’re asking Google to please hear us and allocate the necessary resources to work on it:
1. A real website
The current Market website  is what one could call a “micro” website: on the site, users can only see a description of a few featured and top rated / downloaded apps.
We need a real, full featured, website with all the available apps, download numbers, ratings / comments and a search engine.
This will make it possible to produce links to tweet or send to people who don’t have an Android phone.
This will also be useful for developers, who need a convenient way to see what applications already exist before starting a new project.
2. A way for developers to see comments/ratings of their apps
Currently the only way for developers to see comments/ratings left by users is on an actual phone. There is no web interface to do that.
This is so inconvenient that most developers simply don’t do it and thus, many applications are left with bugs and users who have the impression of being ignored.
We need a website and a notification mechanism (e.g via email or rss) so we can read our users’ comments.
3. A way for developers to reply to comments
Currently there is no way to answer to user comments. The workaround is to do it as a user and leave a rating on our own app!
We need a way to show users that we listen and care about what they say, and reply to them.
Also it would be nice to show the app version, OS version and device model for a particular comment. This way we can better understand reported problems and fix them, and users can see if a comment mentioning a bug is still relevant.
4. App description improvements
The description of applications is currently limited to 325 characters.
There is also a limit on the app name of 25 characters, and you can only show 2 screenshots of your app.
We understand the importance of conciseness, but this is a bit extreme. We need more space, especially for ‘full-featured’ apps. Also, some languages like German or French tend to have longer words.
A gallery for the screenshots, instead of just 2 would be nice.
We also need a way to describe what changed in a new version. Currently the only place to show this is within the app description, but with the 325 characters limit this is an impossible job.
A way to put tags / keywords is needed too, so we can make an app easily searchable.
Also, links on the app description must be clickable.
5. Better developer console / statistics
Currently on the developer console, the only information available about an app are the number of downloads and the percentage of “active” ones.
We’d like more data, for instance a breakdown of the Android versions the app is used on. We know products like Analytics can help, but it would be much simpler if this kind of data was already built-in.
Also, when a user uninstalls an app, they’re asked why they did it; we need to have access to this information.
6. Multiple versions of an app
Currently there are quite a few versions of Android and it’s not always easy to make a unique version of an app that will run well on all of them.
We want to be able to have multiple versions of the same app on the Market (for instance one for 1.5 and one for 1.6+).
Facilities to have paid/free/demo versions of the same app would also be welcome.
7. Other features?
We feel the previous points were the most important ones, but of course there are other features that we’d love to see too, for instance:
* a better search facility in the Market app (spelling mistakes fixing, auto-completion)
* support for promotion codes to distribute to users / reviewers for free downloads
* a way to sell extensions for apps (for instance game levels)
* a way for users to easily send log files and screenshots, to report a problem with an app
* a way for the users to hide apps from specific “spam” developers
* a ratings system like the ones used for movies and video games – this way applications targeting adults could be allowed
* support for more countries
* support for other payment methods (for instance Paypal)
* …and other new cool features – surprise us! 🙂
In short, we simply want the Android Market to be the best app market out there!
Thank you Google. We love Android, and we want to continue developing apps for it. We know you understand and care about developers. We hope you’ll hear us.
– Sincerely, The Undersigned