New Android apps a mixed bag, should improve

So far, some new applications in the Android Market are low quality but analysts expect them to improve with time.

Some of the new applications loaded to the Android Market since it opened on Monday don't work very well, crash the phone, aren't particularly elegant and in one case, uses commands written in Chinese.

But the good applications should ultimately outweigh the bad as developers make improvements to their applications and as the community matures, analysts say.

The G1, the first phone to run Google's Android open-source software, went on sale last week by T-Mobile USA.

"I believe it will evolve much the way Linux did," said Carl Howe, an analyst with Yankee Group. In the early days of Linux, developers produced a lot of low-quality applications, he said. With enough bad comments from the community about the applications, developers either improved them or pulled them, he said. Already, many applications in the Android Market have been updated based on user comments.

The Android Market, where phone users shop for and download applications, initially included only applications that Google had approved. But on Monday, the market opened to any developer who, after paying a US$25 registration fee, could upload any application.

Since then, many new applications have appeared, including several calculators, to-do lists, weather applications, tip calculators, budget planning tools and flashlights.

JogTracker, an application that uses the GPS (Global Positioning System) in the phone to map out a runner's route and show distance, works quite well. Another, Gmote, has gotten rave reviews from people who use the application as a remote control for their computers. Users who have a computer connected to their TVs for streaming video find the application especially useful.

While most of the top-ranked applications are those that appeared before the market opened to any developer, a few new ones including a notepad, a dictionary, a language translator and a Yellow Pages application have made it near the top of the list.

The rating system in the Android Market, which lets Google include a list of applications based on popularity, is an important feature in such an open environment, analysts said. "Communities do a good job of weeding out the chaff from the wheat," said Howe.

That should help users focus on the better applications and ignore the others. "If [bad applications] start to be a preponderance of what people get and if they get frustrated, people won't stand for it. It's not worth their time to fight through the bad applications," said Ken Dulaney, an analyst with Gartner.

Some of the applications that don't work so well include DroidRecord, which should record audio but doesn't for some people. AReader is an ebook reader that some users have had trouble with. Some buttons in the application launch windows with instructions in Chinese.

Other applications seem like very early versions. Statusinator is an application designed to let users update their Facebook status and photos. The description apologizes for how cumbersome it is to use: "login is complicated (sorry!). In short, press 'menu,' then click 'login,' 'authorize status updates,' and then 'authorize photos.' Each will open a Facebook Web page in which you'll have to confirm the action."

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