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How to improve your Android app search

There are too many Android apps out there to keep track of these days, especially if you're using your device to search for them, but there are better tools to help you quickly and easily find the best apps for your needs.

The Android Market offers plenty of great apps, but using your device to scan through them all can be a pain, unless you already know exactly what you want and it's got a name that's easy to type on a teensy keyboard. Google recently added some sweet new options to its Web-based Android Market that make life much easier for those of us who are always looking for the next big thing.

If you've never used the Market on the Web before, you'll need to register your devices first. It's easy if you've already linked those devices to your Google account, which is usually the first thing you do after turning it on for the first time. Log in and check the "Settings" tab in "My Market Account" to see if your devices are listed; if not, you'll need to make sure you're on the right account and that your device is set up properly. You can also see which apps are on each device (or are pending) in the "Orders" tab.



Android Market Account page

Android Market Account page

(Credit: Screenshot by Rob Lightner)

Once the Market knows who you are, the fun begins. Head over to "Editor's Choice" for staff-recommended games and apps. Not all are free, and a few (e.g. Facebook) are either preinstalled or no-brainers, but for the most part, their suggestions are rock-solid.


Android Market Editor's Choice page

Editor's Choice page

(Credit: Screenshot by Rob Lightner)

When you find an app you want, just click "Install" to bring up a permissions pop-up. Choose which device you want to install it on, then click "Install" again to send it to your device. That's not so hard, right?

Android Market Install page

Install page

(Credit: Screenshot by Rob Lightner)

If you want to see what everyone else is downloading, just head over to the main page and scan down the left side. Top Paid, Top Free, Top Grossing, Top New Paid, and Top New Free apps are all easy to browse through. Stay ahead of the curve with the Trending Apps category in the center of the page, which shows those apps that have been jumping ahead of the competition recently.

Android Market Top Downloads sidebar

Top Downloads sidebar

(Credit: Screenshot by Rob Lightner)

One last feature of the Web-based Market that's worth a mention is like wine pairing at a fancy restaurant. Each app has three lists along the left side of the page: "More from developer," "Users who viewed this also viewed," and (my favorite) "Users who installed this also installed." That last one can show you all sorts of awesome widgets or add-ons for your new must-have, and might lead you to some great new discoveries.

Android Market also viewed/downloaded sidebars

Also Viewed/Downloaded sidebars

(Credit: Screenshot by Rob Lightner)

There's still a place for the device-based Android Market, of course, and Google will be porting some or all of the best Web Market features into the Market app someday soon. For now, though, the Web Market is so much easier and more fulfilling to use that I'm sticking with it exclusively.