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.

The appearance of faulty or low quality applications in the market is a result of its openness, and makes the market different than Apple's iPhone App Store. Developers must submit their applications to Apple, which examines them and decides whether to include them in the store. That helps ensure that mostly quality applications appear there, Dulaney said.

However, applications in the Android Market have the potential for more functionality than apps in Apple's store because Android developers can access more phone functions, such as the dialer, Howe said. SpellDial, for instance, is an Android application that lets users spell out and then call someone from their contacts list using the on screen touch number keypad. Without SpellDial, G1 users must slide open the keyboard to type out a name that they want to find and call from their contacts list.

In addition since anyone can build a phone around Android, applications could take advantage of various hardware innovations. While that's not the case for Apple developers, who are stuck with just one set of hardware specifications, that's also a benefit for Apple. Developers build iPhone applications based on one set of specifications describing the size of the screen and other features, so their applications are sure to work on all iPhones.

By contrast, it's unclear what will happen once there are multiple phones running Android on the market. Presumably the phones will have difference hardware capabilities, so not all applications will work on all Android phones. If there remains just one Android Market to serve all phones, that could create problems. "You might have to read a list of requirements to decide if the application will run," Howe noted.

That means some users could end up buying applications that can't run on their phones. Google has a provision for that, though. The current Android Market terms state that anyone can return an application within 24 hours for a full refund. For now, all applications in the market are free but by the first quarter next year Google plans to roll out a mechanism so that developers can charge for their applications.

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Nancy Gohring

IDG News Service
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