This article was submitted by a reader, I found it interesting so here it is. Thanks Aux.
I want to write some articles on Android usability and my thoughts on UI improvements. Being an active Android user and a fan I see some inefficiencies every day. I hope Google guys will find my articles and implement some of my suggestions. I think that that will improve overall user experience with Android platform.
Today I will start with Android Market. It is one of the most important Android features for me — I use it everyday to search, install and update lots of useful apps and games. Improving it will benefit both users and app developers.
If you have any comments and/or suggestions — feel free to leave a comment. I would also appreciate spreading the word about my articles — that will show how user interface and experience are important to both users and app developers and may influence Google decisions. I do really want Android to become even better and I hope you want it too.
As you might already know, Google is made its name thanks to their search technologies, so it makes sense that searching in Android Market would be the best way to navigate thousands of apps. But it’s not, sadly…
I think, that first of all, search should be context dependent. That is if I’m searching “ROM” from Apps section, then show me Clockwork ROM Manager first, but if I’m making that search from Games section, then I expect ROM gripper to be on top. ROM query does not yield much of results, actually, so you see these apps and games on one screen. Try “Manager” query. Where will you find Striker Manager game? That’s A LOT of scrolling!
This change should be very easy to implement. At least I think so based on my eight year programming experience. But benefit is BIG. And it will be a benefit for everyone. Some people call it discoverability: users will find propers apps easier with no noticeable UI changes and using common sense only; app developers will be happy that more users find their apps and their apps will actually be relevant to user searches; Google earns more money on boosted app sales doing almost nothing. Win-Win-Win combo, don’t you think?
Next proposal should also be easy to implement. If you make a search today it is automatically added to recent searches. That’s great! But that feature allows user only to repeat exactly the same search which was done previously. This is bad if user want to refine it adding or removing some key words — you need to retype everything from scratch even though you have your previous searches in history. And typing on a screen keyboard is a pain when you can skip that step. I think that it would not require lots of effort to add long-tap action to search history items, which will copy selected text into search box without launching search immediately. It would also be very nice if search field won’t be emptied after executing the search, so user will be able to edit last search. Refining searches works great on Google web search, why it is not available in Market? I think it is very important and useful feature.
Another way to refine search results is to add a check box near input field which will allow to search inside current search results. User may search for “manager”, get lots of results and then clarify that he wants file manager by searching for “File” inside the results. I think that will require a bit more work on Google’s side, but may be implemented someday.
And the last search improvement I have in my head is to add select box near search field, so the user can choose where to search: everywhere, in titles and descriptions or in developer/publisher names. You can search by publisher today, but it requires additional knowing of keywords and typing them as well as knowing exact developer/publisher name. That is not good and cumbersome. Adding one small filtering element won’t clutter the UI, but will provide a very powerful tool for everyone.
I think that my ideas are worth noticing. Thinking of Android Market I tried to feel for all three sides: users, app devs and Google. Looks like everyone should be satisfied with such changes and improvements.