It turns out Google’s Honeycomb event wasn’t entirely about Android 3.0 Honeycomb. Late in the presentation we got a sneak peak at some new features coming to the Android Market soon, including a brand new desktop browser interface, easier sorting and sharing of apps, as well as much improved developer tools like in-app purchases, high-res promotional graphics and less complicated foreign currency handling.
The biggest news is the desktop browsing interface. The Android Market website now looks terrible on a PC. There are little to no sorting options, it’s basically just the often criticized phone experience blown up to fit a larger screen. That’s all about to change, and here’s what Google has in store for the Market going forward.
Coming soon is a PC Market interface that has been completely redesigned. It’s much more graphic-intensive, and includes a slideshow of high-res banners for featured apps. The search has been improved, the sorting has been improved, and it’s much easier to find new and interesting apps than it ever was before. App developers can upload high-res screenshots, longer descriptions and large promotional graphics for their apps which will be featured prominently on their app page, and even embed YouTube videos right on their page to show off demos of their app.
The process of buying an app has also been greatly improved. Once you buy an app on the desktop market, users will be able to select which of their Android devices it will sync to, and then the app will begin downloading on the device automatically. Since the desktop machine is connected to Google’s cloud and the phone is connected to it as well, everything syncs seamlessly, just click and go. It’s that easy.
Another great feature coming to the PC market is easy sharing of apps on social media sites. Every app page will have a Twitter button, for example, which will make for easy sharing of the app to your Twitter followers. When you click the Tweet button, the standard Twitter window pops up with a box to edit what you’d like to say and publish it to your Twitter followers. When someone else clicks the link, it will take them to the right place depending on where they are clicking from: if they’re on an Android phone, they’ll be taken directly to the Market app. If they’re on a PC, their browser will open up to the desktop version app page. Sounds like a pretty seamless experience to me.
Finally, Google has added a few more features to make it easier for developers especially in foreign countries, to use the market to sell their apps. Previously, developers who wanted to sell their app in a different country than they live in would have to use exchange-rate based billing, which can be confusing for customers. App prices would change based on the exchange rate, and you could pay one price for an app one day and see it be less the next. Now, developers can set individual country-based pricing for their apps, so customers in those countries will get a consistent experience. Support for static pricing in dollars is rolling out immediately, with support for other currencies coming soon. In addition, Google is rolling out support for in-app purchases.