Over the past few months, Google has been steadily pushing out a major update to the Market, the content management system on Android phones. The update brought not only a brand spanking new interface but also book and movie rentals (in the US only, though) and a greater focus on featured content.
The new Market, which is being pushed out to Android devices in gradual phases, has ditched its traditional tabbed design in favour of a more Windows Mobile 7 Metro UI interface, where lists have been replaced by tiles and sliding horizontally across your phone’s display to flick between screens is now a major part of the interface.
The new version of the Market running on my Galaxy S II
The update is certainly a refreshing change to the Market – which was slowly starting to show its age – and gives a different perspective to browsing and downloading applications. Featured apps are now shown in tiles on the home screen and are a lot more noticeable, instead of simply being listed on the Market home page.
The old version of the Market, which was looking a little outdated
So, what exactly is new? Is there anything else apart from an overhauled interface? Is Android slowly inching towards the Metro UI and, consequently, Windows Phone 7? Let’s have a look at the new Market in a bit more detail.
The old version of the Market differentiated between applications and games, and they were categorised according to the top free applications, top paid applications and the most recently added ones to the Market. Now, applications are categorised according to a larger number of categories:
Top New Paid
Top New Free
In individual application categories you can also search via these categorisations as well, which can often help you discover new and undiscovered applications.
This version of the Market has placed great emphasis on featured applications (much like the iTunes Store has) and they are far more prominent than in previous versions. Featured applications are displayed in tiles on the home screen, making them easier to discover, and each application category has its own range of featured applications displayed in the same way.
The featured applications in the News and Magazines section
It seems that the boffins over at Android HQ in California took quite a few leaves out of Windows Phone 7 and Metro UI’s books when it came to designing the new Market. The tiles and the swiping left and right to switch screens both bring WP7 to mind.
The new Market on Android is extremely reminiscent of WP7's Metro UI interface
Whether Google has pinched the new interface or not (keep your diaries free for the next major lawsuit…), the interface is certainly a huge improvement over previous incarnations of the Market, which looked cheap and badly designed.
The big question is, what is next for the Market? It is likely that this update was pushed out to coincide with Ice Cream Sandwich in order to prevent it looking juvenile compared to the rest of Android 4.0, but it looks like Google has got a few more tricks up its sleeve for future updates.
AndroidGuys.com reports that Paypal may be a possibility in a future update, which will eliminate the need for having to register a credit card on your Google Checkout file and allows customers to pay for applications directly via their bank accounts using a direct debit system.
If your phone hasn’t received the update for the new Market (or you are too impatient to wait for it), then you can download it from here (though make sure you back up your device first – we take no responsibility for bricked phones!). In the meantime, please feel free to share your thoughts on the new Market in the comments section below. Whether you love it or hate it, we’d love to hear your opinion.