Google, why don’t you apply your search prowess to the Play Store?
There are many facets to the Google empire, it has a popular blogging platform, it is a world leading online advertising company, it has an excellent email service and it is the creator and custodian of Android. But when someone says “I’ll Google it” what they mean is that they will use Google’s search engine. This is what made Google famous. But here’s the thing. Back in the day Google’s search engine made directory type sites (like Yahoo!) obsolete because now everything could be found using a search term, but the Google Play Store is essentially a directory of apps. Every time I use it to try and find an app I think I am back in the mid-90s.
Surely Google must be able to take the mighty power of its search engine and combine it with some clever technology (like the bits that power Google News) and come up with a better way for Android users to find apps. The fact that services like AppBrain exist means that Google has more it could do.
Here are a few thoughts about how Google can help us all discover some of the brilliant apps available for Android.
1) Integrate the Play Store directly into the Google search engine results. If I type “platform games android” into Google I don’t get any Play Store links in the first 50 results (I only checked the first five pages then I got bored, it could be much worse). Any of you who know about Search Engine Optimization will understand that Google’s policy isn’t to start sticking its own stuff in the search results and mess up all the lovely ranking algorithms that it has. However it wouldn’t be hard for Google to include a side panel with links to Play Store content when it sees relevant search terms. It could also add a special search term (like the existing inurl: etc), something like ‘androidapp:’ that looks for Android apps. Although there is the “Applications” option which, like Images and Videos etc, allows you to tune results for apps, this should be more automatic like it is with Images, Video and News.
2) Google has access to millions of blog posts and Google+ updates. Google monitors these in as close to real time as is possible. It should be using this information to create a “Trending online” category which shows which apps are being talked about the most on the Internet. This is different to the current Trending category which is based on data coming from the Play Store itself.
3) Google needs to add loads of more filters, all of which should be usable as search terms. The filters need to include release date, price ascending, price descending, X stars and above and popularity based on the number of comments, downloads or ratings. Finally there should also be filters for when an app was last updated (there is nothing worse than installing and becoming dependent on a stagnant app that doesn’t get updated).
I am sure there are more things that Google could do. If you have any ideas please leave a comment below.