Google Play needs to be fixed. I have been trying out a BlackBerry Z10 now, and got a look at BlackBerry’s own App Store, BlackBerry World. Looking for alternatives to Android apps on BlackBerry World, I noticed that it was a lot easier to find relevant apps on BlackBerry’s app store. I even found two new apps, a web-to-PDF creator and a simple chart creator. Going back to my Android, I searched for a web-to-PDF creator and a simple chart creator, and added two apps to my Android app collection. Then it struck me, there is something wrong here.
There are not all that many differences between how one app store looks versus the other, but one thing missing from Google Play is sub-categories. Google Play groups apps into twenty-seven categories, from “Books and Reference” to “Widgets”. One category, Games, has eight sub-categories. The others do not. Go into a category and the options shown to you are a list for the top paid and the top free apps. On BlackBerry World, selecting the category, Productivity would bring up four sub-categories: Document Tools, Organization, Productivity and Search.
Sub-categories help in two ways. First it divides apps into groups, so someone looking for a specific type of application, can drill down a list getting more specific recommendations as you go along. If a category had four sub-categories, then it would make the apps in that group four time more visible. Looking at Google Play’s “Productivity” category, I find keyboards, file managers, calendar apps, organizers, note taking applications, cloud apps and task Apps all competing for space on the same list.
It would be better if Google Play has sub-categories for “Productivity” broken down into: Keyboards, File Managers, Organizers, Document Tools and PDF Tools. By having five categories, the apps would be five times more visible.
Sub-categories would also better define what kind of apps should fit in a particular category. I am not sure why in the Productivity category, Google Play displays battery saver, memory killer, task killer, startup manager and backup apps. These are things which should be classified as Tools or Utilities. Actually, if you go to the category “Tools,” you will also find these battery saver, memory killer, task killer, startup manager and backup apps, too. You will not find word processors in Productivity. Apps like QuickOffice and DocumentsToGo are displayed under the category Business.
Unfortunately, Google being a search company seems to be stuck on the concept of top results. In order to advertise apps, Google relies primarily on displaying results for Top Paid, Top Free, Top Grossing, Top New Paid, Top New Free and Trending apps. If you make it to the Top New or Trending categories, you probably have a decent chance of moving on to the other Top list later. If you do not, well there are around 900,000 apps on Google Play, so your app would pretty much be like a needle in a haystack.
Google seems to know there is a problem. To highlight other apps, they created a Staff Picks category, which now has been replaced by a Recommended for You category. The problem with the Recommended for You is that it displays alternatives to apps you already installed or viewed recently.
There are about 900,000 apps on Google Play. If you could somehow be able to view an app every ten seconds, it would take you 104 days without sleep to look at all. While there probably is no way to highlight all the 900,000 apps in Google Play, improving how apps are categorized, and the categories available will help a bit. If that needle in the haystack had five times better chance of being found, it is better than nothing.