Google adds '+1' rating feature to Android Market

Google is giving Android Market users a new way to evaluate applications even as it struggles to keep malicious ones off the store.

The "+1" feature on the Android Market is intended to be a more personalized complement to the standard star-based app-rating system that users have traditionally employed to give their opinions on applications.

BACKGROUND: More malware apps sneak onto Android Market

The premise is simple: If you like a particular application on the Android Market, you can sign into your Google account and give it a +1 that all of your other Google contacts will be able to see when they click on the app. In other words, you'll be able to see whether or not your friends and acquaintances are fans of a particular game just by clicking to see if any people you know have recommended it. Friends' and contacts' +1 ratings will also appear in search results if they have recommended any products or websites relating to the search keywords, Google says.

"With a single click you can recommend that raincoat, news article or favorite sci-fi movie to friends, contacts and the rest of the world," Google writes on its official blog. "The next time your connections search, they could see your +1's directly in their search results, helping them find your recommendations when they're most useful."

Google began rolling out its +1 feature on its Web search results this past March, letting users give recommendations on whether various search results accurately matched the keywords they entered into the search engine. Google says that it's going to start implementing the +1 system on other popular Google properties including Blogger, Product Search and YouTube as well. Google is also working to integrate the +1 button onto a wide variety of partner sites, including Rotten Tomatoes, The Huffington Post, Best Buy and Bloomberg.

The addition of the +1 button to the Android Market comes as Google has continued its struggles to keep malicious applications off of the market. Just this past week Google had to remove 25 different malicious applications from the market, less than three months after it had to pull more than 50 different applications from the store during the so-called "DroidDream" infection. Security firm Lookout Mobile Security estimated that between 30,000 and 120,000 users were infected by the latest round of malicious applications.

Ever since launching Android in 2007, Google has gone out of its way to making the mobile operating system the most accessible and app-friendly in the industry. One way it has tried to do this has been in taking an "anything goes" approach to screening applications for sale on its Android Market. Basically, Google itself doesn't screen any of the apps that go up on its store but rather relies on users to flag potentially malicious apps so they can be removed after they've already posted on the store. While this has led to a wide array of different apps being available on the market, it has also predictably created some serious security issues, such as the aforementioned DroidDream fiasco.

Read more about anti-malware in Network World's Anti-malware section.

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