As of this writing, there are countless gazillion different Android apps on Google Play. So how do you find the nice ones? There is no one answer to this question. First, of course, there’s our very own list of Best Android Apps, and the app that goes along with it. There are also Google Play’s own Featured Apps and recommendations. But I’m here to tell you of a recent entry into the crowded “app discovery” space – one that tries to do things differently, and more visually - Playboard.
Playboard comes from Swiss-based developer 42matters AG, the same company behind the AppAware app catalog. I found it interesting that one company would put out two seemingly competing apps, but Playboard and AppAware are quite different when it comes down to it.
It’s All About Simplicity
Some users are very data-driven, so to speak. They like to be able to carefully filter the Market according to specific search criteria, download counts, and rating minimums. If you’re one of these users, Playboard is not for you. Playboard’s interface is as simple and visual as could be: You get a bunch of large, inviting tiles, and tap them to flick between apps like cards. For example, this is what Playboard has to say about Hot Apps:
You get one app per screen, with a large screenshot and a short (truncated) description. You can instantly see the developer, rating, and review count. At the bottom of the screen you can see where you stand on the current list – the Hot Apps list contains 84 apps right now.
Change Is The Only Constant
In talking to developers 42matters AG, they stressed how they wanted Playboard content to be ever-changing and timely. In other words, the content you see today may be totally different than what you’ll see tomorrow. The idea here is to serve users who install apps as a pastime – you know, you’re sitting there with your Android device in hand, all bored, and are just looking for some cool app to take the tedium away. Ideally, that’s when you’ll reach for Playboard.
Playboard lets users pick and choose their own sources for tiles:
Under Blogs & Websites, you’ll find MakeUseOf, too:
This would let you access the Best Apps list through Playboard itself:
Ideally, this should have lead to the most recent Android reviews on MakeUseOf, but that’s not what you get. So the drawback here is that the Best Apps list is much more static than the rest of the content in the app, but the plus is that it’s manually curated.
As could be expected, Playboard features built-in search:
Search results are displayed in the same “one app per screen” format, which is indeed simple, but can also be cumbersome to flick through when you’re trying to track down one specific app. Then again, Playboard wasn’t really meant for this sort of work, but mainly for aimless browsing and wandering through the seemingly endless wealth of apps Google Play offers.
Playboard doesn’t do much, but it’s graceful at what it does do. It won’t replace apps like Best Apps Market or AppAware, but it fills its own cozy little niche. Let us know in the comments what you think of it.