May 12, 2011 at 1:01 PM ET
Google's Android Market has a refreshed look and organization as of Thursday, so that users of the operating system get a much more iTunes-like experience when hunting for programs to download to their phones and tablets.
Five big improvements were announced by Google, including being able to check the most popular apps, hot new apps, as well as apps that are "trending" in the Market, which now has more than 200,000 programs. (Apple has more than 350,00 apps, but the Android Market has been growing quickly as Android vies with Apple for domination of the top mobile devices.
"We’ve had 4.5 billion applications installed to date. But with so many apps available, how do you find the ones you really want? Whether you’re looking for the most popular apps, hot new apps, or just the very best apps available, we want to help make sure that you find what you’re looking for," wrote Fernando Delgado, Android Market product manager, on Google's blog Thursday.
The changes for the Android Market are these, Google said:
New "top app" charts: "We’ve revamped our top app charts to be fresher and country-specific, so you get the most current, relevant results. We’ve also added top new free, top new paid, and top grossing lists, all right on the Android Market home page." Apple has long had the top new free/paid/grossing info available on iTunes.
Editors' Choice: This is another feature Apple has had as "Staff Favorites," offers "some of the very best apps available for Android, as chosen by the Android Market staff."
Top Developers: Those who create "the highest quality, most popular, and most notable apps available on Android Market" are featured with an icon on the Android Market website, and as of Thursday, more than 150 developers are featured.
Better 'related' apps: Now, on the left-hand side of an app page, you see apps "frequently browsed by people who viewed this app, and apps that people tend to install alongside this app. For example,: Delgado says, "people who view ScoreMobile, my favorite sports score app, often also view other sports score apps, while those who install ScoreMobile tend to also install apps for specific sports leagues or teams. We’ll also show you related apps once you decide to install an app."
Trending apps information: This looks at apps that are "quickly growing in daily installs." Apple also features these as "What's Hot."
The changes are welcome; while both Apple and Google have made it easier than just about anyone else to find and download mobile apps, Google has been behind in the way the Android Market was organized. The changes announced Thursday make it a more level playing field, even if Google added mainly what Apple has already had.