One major complaint about the Android platform has been the poor quality of the apps and, in some cases, their security issues. According to new reports, Google has been making a greater effort to clean up the apps in its Google Play marketplace with a record-setting 60,000 rejections in February. And, on Tuesday, the company began rolling out a new Google Play interface.
A large number of the deleted apps were in the MP3/ringtone category, which has been particularly notorious for copyright violations and other issues. Many of the deleted apps were cited for violations of Google Play's Terms of Service, such as keyword-laden product descriptions that attempt to manipulate search results, or apps created by automated tools.
Google Play still has the problem that apps are not scanned until they have been made available, as compared to Apple's App Store, where all apps are reviewed before being accepted.
The new cleanup appears to be part of an overall revamping of the Android marketplace. Last week, the technology giant announced a revised interface for Play that groups content, uses larger images, and generally attempts to make searching for apps easier. The rollout begins Tuesday for Android phones and tablets running Android 2.2 (Froyo) and above.
In a posting on the company Android blog, Google Play group product manager Michael Siliski wrote Tuesday that the redesigned store is "simple, clean and -- most importantly -- helps you find great entertainment, fast." Other improvements include the appearance of new recommendations as a user moves down a page, and a simplified purchasing flow to get buyers through checkout.
The Android Marketplace, the original name for Google Play, launched in October, 2008, and it currently has an inventory in the vicinity of 750,000 apps.
A variety of reports from security experts have documented the rise of Android as the main targeted mobile platform for malware, much of which enters through apps. In November, security firm Bit9 released a report that said as many as one quarter of the apps in the Google Play market could pose a security risk. A report last October from Symantec noted that at least some free Android apps employ "aggressive" advertising tactics.
Seems 'Higher Quality'
Avi Greengart, an analyst with industry research firm Current Analysis, said that the newer Android apps he's seen "appear to be of higher quality than in the past." As the platform grows in market share, he added, the quality seems to be increasing.
Greengart said that the basic pattern of release these days is for an application to be released for Apple's iOS platform first, and then for Android later or simultaneously. "The typical iOS user will pay for the app," he said, "while the typical Android user gets the app free, with ads."
He said that, assuming the report that Google deleted 60,000 apps in February is accurate, "there are an awful lot of security issues, copyright infringements, and other clean up to do" on Android apps in the Play store.