The new Android Market was announced and demoed by Google a couple of days ago and rather than sit and twiddle our thumbs waiting for it to be pushed out to us, we decided to head out and download version 3.0.26 to give it a preview play.
Of course, bear in mind that as this hasn’t officially come from Google OTA, so there may be some elements that change when it lands on our Euro devices.
As we’ve seen in the past, outside of the US, Google Movies and Google Books isn’t an option so the landing page of the new Android Market is the features Apps page, rather than the index page we’ve seen elsewhere.
The design is radically different from the previous iteration of Android Market, with a strong hint of Windows Phone 7 creeping in thanks to the use of big tiles. Previously we had to deal with a small carousel of featured apps running across the top of the screen, now we have the “Featured” landing page.
Included on this Featured page are Games, Staff Choices and Editors’ Choice boxes, along with single and double width blocks displaying other apps. It’s bright, it’s vibrant and fortunately, most app blocks also carry the price and star rating of that app.
The Android Market swipes from side-to-side. To the left is the Categories page, braking down into major areas as in the last version of Android Market. Moving to the right you’ll find the familiar Top Paid, Top Free, Top Grossing, Top New Paid, Top New Free and finally Trending.
Of course there will be a good deal of cross-over in a number of these pages, and once you leave that features page, you’re faced with double column app tiles, showing you the icon, title, developer, star rating and price.
A search option is available on every page, also accessed via your search button or handset shortcut, so is always within easy reach.
Dive into an app that looks interesting and you’ll get the visuals up top with preview screens immediately available and other information below. You can scroll down to see the description, see what’s new or read user reviews. A share option is at the top of each app page, offering to push the app out to the usual run of sharing services.
The menu throws up access to “My Apps” so you can see what you have installed, as well as easily check for updates. The menu also offers you settings (AdMob preferences and content filtering), as well as search and the interesting option of Accounts.
Like Android Market on Honeycomb devices, you’ll now be able to designate which account you access the Market with, and switch between the two. If you have any paid apps associated with a particular account then this means you get easy access, but does introduce the potential for confusion if you’re constantly switching.
The new layout is a welcome refresh over the past two iterations making it easier to view more on each page. The curated selections from Staff and Editors means there is somewhere else you can go to look for new apps, which is always welcomed.
The Android Market widget now serves up selections which reflect those on the featured pages (from what we’ve seen so far). In testing our version has been stable enough, a little slow at times and with some sections in German, but otherwise it looks and feels pretty good.
We don’t know exactly when it will be appearing over the air, but if you’re desperate you can always run off and install the APK yourself.