Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Market is a Shambles

I have had an Android phone for about a year now and a few days ago I started experiencing problems with the Market. I have not tried installing any new apps but whenever I tried to upgrade something it would get a "download failed" error. I searched on the Internet for solutions and tried various things including clearing the application data from the Market, clearing the cache from the Market and clearing the data and cache from a list of applications that have nothing to do with the Market (but were all created by Google). While trying these solutions I would occasionally get something to work but more often than not the "download failed" would return. Finally I came to the 'turn it off and back on again' solution and this time something odd happened; it took an inordinately long time to reboot and then when I opened the Market it had changed considerably. At first I thought that I had really broken something and it had reverted to some sort of basic mode because it looked like something from an older, more primitive world but I have since discovered that it had in fact updated itself. One of my biggest immediate annoyances, apart from the changed display and the fact that it was now much slower than before, was that the order of the items that appeared when I pressed the 'menu' button had changed. Typically, I would open the Market and instinctively press 'menu' followed by 'My Apps' to see if there are any updates. However, this option and 'Settings' have been switched round and this change, coupled with my muscle memory and the general sluggishness of the application, has led to several moments of seething impotently at Google's developers. Anyway the good news is that I no longer got the "download failed" message. The bad news is that it was replaced with "Package file is invalid" which is, at least, a little more descriptive.

Another thing that annoyed me was that a number of apps had reverted to 'Automatic Update' (again, all Google apps). I set all apps to require manual updates because I like to see what is getting installed on my device. To find that Google has rode roughshod over my preferences makes me a little bit peeved, but not as much as if I were subscribed to a pay-as-you-go data plan and thus find myself being charged for Google's cavalier approach.

As I have already mentioned, I thought that I must have broken something and this is because I have been trying some app development and installing things that I had created only my phone. Some of the solutions I had found had mentioned installing packages download from other sources than the Market as being part of the problem so I had pretty much resigned myself to having to spend some time finding what I had done wrong and tidying things up. This was until I saw someone on Google+ complaining about exactly the same thing. He was putting the blame on the carrier but a follow up comment said, "I blame google for this one. The old app market used to fly." Having seen this I thought I would try seeing what else I could find and I came across this rather illuminating thread. Some of the posts are quite old but from the posts that were added in the last few days there are some interesting comments:

"Google, the new Market is a failure. You didn't test it. You just expect your paying customers to test it. Very lame."
"I still don't know why the Market takes forever to load up though. It is really annoying. I loved the old Market, it was fast, plain and simple."
"I'm a software developer and also I've seen that once the new update of the market was released, the download counter of the apps I've put on the market has completely halted (it was like 20+ download/day)."
"no longer show 'new apps'. This is concerning from a user and developer perspective. As a user, I always looked at the new stream when I was bored. As a developer, you count on people looking at that to get people to use your app. Why is this now gone?"

Of course, these are all anecdotal but it is an indication that I am not alone (which is a relief) but the last two quotes I have put is a concern for someone like me who is hoping soon to start producing apps for putting on the Market.

If this is correct and the Market is currently is a very broken state I would hope that a fix will be coming out soon. If what the developer quoted above says is true it will not be long before more developers find that their revenue stream stream has dried up overnight.

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