Life with Android: Marketplace

It’s been about 5 months since I started my Android “liffestyle” and as I’ve noted in my Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 review, Android has been mostly a positive experience. It works fast, reliably and doesn’t get in the way.I must give Sony Ericsson credit though. I didn’t realize how much customization they really did to Android 1.6. For example, one of my colleagues was surprised I had desktop folders and the ability to wirelessly transfer files via Bluetooth. I always thought this was standard functionality but apparently it’s not for OS 1.6.

I do have one complaint though. I have no idea how the Android Marketplace works in terms of application visibility and availability. Far too often, I’m unable to see applications that I should be able to run and should be available to me. Luckily, I have friends who can share the APK files with me so I can manually install. As a consumer and a developer, it’s an inconvenient experience and a frightening prospect, respectively.

A common scenario is that I’ll read about “x” app and how it’s a “must install” but then I’ll go to the marketplace and see that it doesn’t exist. WTH? Google really needs to address issues like this. Also, it’s a painful experience to find good apps within the marketplace. Thank goodness for AppBrain which makes application discovery and installation so much easier. The fast web installer option,which installs apps directly to phone from the web, is simply brilliant. There is still an underlying problem occasionally. AppBrain will show me apps that I cannot see in the Android Marketplace…and in some rare cases, it will install some apps even though I can’t see them in the Android Marketplace.

Also, I’m starting to notice the OS fragmentation as I’m unable to run some applications because Sony Ericsson still hasn’t pushed out their 2.x update (should be available this month). That’s my issue though since I knew Sony Ericsson would be slow with firmware updates. Still, it’s troubling that support for an OS that’s barely a year old is already an issue. I’m glad that they’re going to be slowing down the rate of OS releases so that software and devices can have a chance at maturing and having a useful shelf-life.

We’ll see if I’m complaining less once I get my 2.1 update…

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