My Android Market update arrived on Christmas Eve. Is this a Christmas gift from Google? After all, I know I and many others have been clamoring for many features that the Market should have already had. Let's take a look...
The first, and most obvious, feature is the new, prettier look. A nice, curvy green area descends from the top of the screen, but still contains the same old menu items... Apps, Games, and Verizon (guess which carrier I am on... at least for a little while longer?). I'm not really into cosmetics, but it's definitely nicer looking. It would be nice if they would tie this whole Market in with a desktop computer interface ala iTunes, but Google's web presence for Android continues to be feeble at best (with many app's screenshots not even being properly displayed).
They've also changed the screen for looking at an app and eliminated the tabs in favor of expandable areas. want more description? Click on 'More' and it grows. It looks nice, but I don't see this as much of a boon. In some ways I miss the old Market as tabs seemed more efficient.
Categories? No changes. The same old, basic categories persist to this day along with all of the junk that pollutes them. Filters? Not yet. They did increase the amount of screenshots that an app can have, though, and my understanding is new rules are coming that mandate at least one screenshot. Personally, if you're a developer that uploads software that you've spent longer than 15 minutes working on then you're an idiot. Can I be more blunt? You've spent all this time working on a program and can't even show me what it looks like. I know I don't even bother when I see (or, in this case, don't see?) such laziness.
Speaking of 15 minutes, you now have 15 minutes to try out a download before the time period in which you can request a refund expires. This is probably causing the biggest stir. On one hand, other app stores don't let you get a refund... period. One the other hand, for some of these apps that take 10 minutes in which to download their data packs a 15 minutes refund period is a joke. I'm mixed on this. On Android we've got a degree of fragmentation that can make a game work great on one device and fail on another, and indie developers can't possibly test them all. There needs to be a refund policy. One the other hand, I am sickened when I see someone post that they 'beat all the levels' in 6 hours and got a refund. Asking for a refund of a $.99 game that you've derived 6 hours of enjoyment from just because you can is sleazy. You can thank that guy for the new policy. As for me, personally, having a 15 minute policy reduces my ability to try and review games without racking up quite a bill so I'm not really happy about this, but I do understand it.
There is one biggie in here, though, and that's the new 'My Apps' section that shows the latest downloadable updates. This section now lists ALL of the apps you have ever purchased which is quite the boon to people like me that have been forced to shuffle apps around due to limited memory. Now I can easily see all of the games that I own without slogging through my email archives looking for receipts.
Lastly, I continue to be disappointed in the lack of any gift card support. I had heard rumblings that Google might accept PayPal as a payment method to assist in opening Android up in other countries, and that would help a bit. It would also be nice if they allowed for the download codes so a developer could easily provide demo copies of their games to would be reviewers.
All in all, any updates and improvements are welcome. I still long for more categories and filters that would let me banish the makers of 'Up Her Skirt CXVII' from my world, but there's always next Christmas.