Perhaps the best thing about the new and improved Android market is movie rentals. For others it may be books and still others may like the easier app discovery.
For me it’s movies. The online Android market has had movie rentals but they haven’t been available directly on the phone until now.
The new Android Market design and content are rolling out over the next couple of weeks. However I found a source and was able to download it on my EVO and my Samsung Android Tablet this morning. The movies rental module was missing for the tablet however it was there on my handset.
Getting to the “Wheat” Faster
Android Market has lagged the iTunes app store in overall usability and the new Android Market design doesn’t really change that for me, though it’s definitely a jump forward. There are lots of what I’d call “garbage apps” in the Android Market. The new Market design and features make it somewhat easier to get to the “wheat” more quickly.
In addition the complete absence of tethered syncing is superior to the Apple experience in several contexts. Downloading/renting the first Harry Potter Deathly Hallows movie (DH1) was very fast. And although I haven’t tried it yet, you can also watch movies without a data connection, which is great for the car or the plane.
The movie rental experience is ultimately through YouTube. The Android Market is something of a “front door” to that offering. It was a bit disorienting to try and retrieve my movie rental and be asked to sign in again and then be taken to a PC-centric YouTube interface.
Best Android Market Still Online
Though most people don’t get their apps this way, the best Android Market experience in my opinion is online. The PC version of the Market is the easiest to use and offers the cleanest design. The new Market design for handsets is a bit “heavy” and, as CNET remarked, features tiles and looks a tiny bit like the UI design for Windows Phones. The resemblance really stops at the homepage however.
The new Market also makes content/app discovery a bit easier with more “top lists.” For example, the apps category has the following lists: staff picks, featured, top paid, top free, top grossing, top new paid, top new free and trending. (Might be a bit of overkill here.) These same lists don’t transfer across all content categories of the new Market but Google is clearly addressing some of the weaknesses around app discovery that have existed in the past.
Improvements May Nix Need for Alternative App Stores
Those weaknesses have lead others such as Google frenemy Amazon to rush in with its own app store. Others, like Chomp, have also sought to address the problem of app discovery for both the iPhone and Android with alternative experiences that link to downloads. As the Android Market continues to improve, however, it will probably make these alternatives less necessary.