As everyone should know by now, Google decided to rebrand Android Market just under two weeks ago. There is still a great divide over whether the rebranding was necessary. A lot of people hate the new look, name, etc. And while I've grown used to it, it will never feel or sound right saying "in the Play Store."
Nonetheless, the changes are here to stay. And I'm content, thanks to Google running a week-long promotion with all sorts of awesome goodies for under a dollar. Sure, I may be about $20 poorer, but I scored a lot of awesome games, books, songs and albums to boot, for pennies on the dollar.
After the name change, very little actually ... changed. The icon, of course, is no longer titled Android Market and instead features a nice, big play button on a familiar, white gift bag. (Even two weeks after the fact, I still find myself looking for the green and white gift bag in the M section of my app drawer.) And a few alterations were made within the app itself, like the "Market" header being replaced with "Google Play." Other than that, everything remained exactly as it was before.
Late Friday evening, however, Google pushed out an update to the Play Store. Still, almost everything stayed exactly as it was pre-update. But the My Apps section has been updated. (So has the app Reviews section, which can now be sorted by version number and by type of phone.) Immediately after seeing the changes, I didn't think it was a big deal. I actually kind of liked them. I played around with the update on the Transformer Prime and Galaxy Nexus for a few minutes each before tossing them to the side and getting back to work.
But as I submitted my last article Friday evening, my friend pulled in my driveway, ready to deal. He was bringing a Galaxy Note to trade for my Nexus. Not long after he left, I got to work rooting, unlocking and modding my Note to work on T-Mobile. (Yay, it works! And quite well, at that!) I flashed a new ROM and modem and went through the initial boot process. And as I've said before, I love setting up a new device for the first time. But this time around, it was about as painful of a setup process I have gone through on any smartphone to date – excluding a couple stubborn BlackBerrys, of course.
Aside from the radical context switch from Ice Cream Sandwich back to TouchWiz atop Gingerbread, which I'm still having trouble adjusting to (I keep pulling down the notification shade to try to quickly hop into Settings and I hate not having the task switcher soft button in ICS), I learned just how horrible the update to the Play Store really is.
The My Apps section is now a jumbled mess. There are two lists that you can swipe between: Installed and All. The Installed column is pretty straight forward and hasn't really changed from before. The big difference is that all of your purchases, which used to reside below the list of installed apps, has been moved into the All column, along with every application you have ever installed on any Android device ... ever. There are no sorting options and there is no obvious pattern to which apps are displayed, other than being somewhat time-related (reverse chronological?). All of the free apps you installed in the past are mixed in with premium applications you have purchased and with all of the apps that are currently installed on the device.
You can imagine that for someone who has installed 500 or more total applications, sorting through this list can be quite a chore. But that isn't the worst part. The worst part is that if you have to scroll down, say, 100 applications to get to the app you want to install, when you open that app and go through the two-click process to accept and begin the download, you have to click back once, which takes you to the very top of the All list again. That's a minimum of three clicks to install one application, hitting the back button and having to scroll through a long, long list of hundreds of applications you probably regret ever downloading in the first place.
(For the record, this is how the Web version of Android Market was for as long as I can remember, except they're in alphabetical order. Now on the Play Store, I can only make it to the F section before the next arrow takes me back to the beginning of the list. It's annoying, to say the least.)
Don't get me wrong, I like the direction that Google was going with this update. Separating what's installed from purchases and every other application you've ever downloaded is a good thing. But then not offering a way to sort of mass select and install all of these different apps is just ludicrous. I remember about five or six times that I got so frustrated with it that I almost just walked away, which is unheard of from me. I usually enjoy setting up a new device, remember?
It's not the end of the world, by any means. But, if nothing else, this needs to be fixed. Soon.
Please, Google, just make the Play Store remember my place in the All column when I go to install an app and come back, or let me install straight from the column itself. Better yet, let me select multiple apps at once to install in one fell swoop and add more than two columns. Maybe one for purchases alone. Is that too much to ask?
I know something as minuscule as this probably won't bother most of you. To be honest, it probably never would have occurred to me had I not had to setup a new device immediately after the update. But that was easily the most upset and frustrated I have been with any mobile device in recent memory. Fix this, Google.