Android

Dear Google: Please let Android developers target their apps for specific devices

May 12, 2010 | by Andrew Kameka

Google Android

Dear Google: Please let Android developers target their apps for specific devices

Next week, Google will host thousands of Android developers and enthusiasts at its annual Google I/O conference in San Francisco. In a series of totally unauthorized but wholly-constructive criticism, Androinica.com suggests ways to improve the operating system we all love so much.

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Hello, Android team. My name is Andrew and I’m the Managing Editor of Androinica.com, a website dedicated to Google Android news. As you can imagine, I spend a great deal of time looking for and writing about the leading apps available in the Android Market. Sadly, there’s a major problem with it: The Android Market comment and rating system is worthless.

Android’s method for collecting user reviews and comment stinks largely because of user error. I won’t hold you responsible for them, but I’m hoping you can help minimize their impact. Allowing developers to make their apps visible to specific devices could help in that regard. It would do wonders to reduce the number of comments saying, “Boo! This doesn’t work on Android 1.5!”

There once was a time when comments and ratings were a split-second indicator about whether something was worth checking out. However, the Market is now filled with people who can only be described as willfully ignorant. These are a foul breed of people who do nothing but go through the Android Market and 1-star apps that don’t work with their phone. Fragmentation is annoying as is, but it’s even worse when seeing good apps rated poorly just because someone can’t read the description that clearly states his phone is not compatible.

Google, please let developers filter out who is able to see their apps. You already do this based on carrier, country, and screen size, so why not extend that very logic to device type? If someone builds an app specifically for phones like the Desire, Droid, or Nexus One, they shouldn’t have their work tarnished by people upset because they were left-out.

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Barcode Scanner has several negative comments from Motorola Devour users upset that the app won’t work because their camera lacks autofocus. That’s a hardware issue, not a problem with the app, so letting people dump on Barcode Scanner for that reason is senseless. There’s also no reason Raging Thunder 2, an app that clearly states first-gen phones can’t use it, should have pages of illiterate Android users complaining because the app doesn’t work on a G1 or myTouch.

The free and open model for the Android Market needs to be tweaked. If people won’t pay attention, make them unable to see incompatible apps. Do the right thing, Google. Let developers target their apps by device.