Clarence Eldefors blog Mostly about the web and technology


Alternative Android markets

One good thing about the android system is the ability to create your own application markets to cover functions unavailable on the default Android Market or to get an application market onto devices not approved by Google. Since I couldnt find any good lists on the markets available I browsed around my android market mailbox and searched the web a bit to come up with this list:

SlideMe (4/5)

Number of apps: ~4,000
Payment methods: Paypal, credit and debit cards, amazon payments.
Activity: Good. Top app has more than a 150k downloads. Very very low to default market but high for alternatives.
Extras: Developers can get payments to a SlideMe Mastercard. Downloadable native client called "SAM"!

Handster (2/5)

Number of apps: ~4,000 (>10,000 for all platforms)
Payment methods: Paypal, credit and debit cards.
Activity: Seems low. Public number of ratings show 0-5 for most popular apps.
Extras: All platforms at one place.
Comments: Offering locales where they seem to have made automatic translations, at best, makes it seem less reliable.

AndAppstore (1/5)

Number of apps: ~1,800
Payment methods: Only paypal.
Activity: Fairly low. Around 60 comments posted for their native client.
Extras: Native android client.
Comments: Very basic site. Comments without ratings seems to lower overall rating. Complaints about non-delivered apps on their client comments. Seemed promising but in the end didn't deliver any trust.

OpenMarket (-/5)

Comments: Specialized for htc phones and south africa makes it very narrow. didnt catch more interest by web 2.0 catchphrases and unbrowsable categories.

Amazon appstore (2/5)

Website: (?)
Activity: Unknown
Comments: Yearly fee for developers of $99 which is 3 times what you pay for your google market account. First year waived. Needed to sell apps on I still don't see the need or what is so special with this market - unless they are coming with their own device.

Poketgear (2/5)

Number of apps: ~4,500 in android section
Payment methods: Payapal, credit and debit cards.
Activity: Ok at best. 7,000 downloads of angry birds compared to millions on default client.
Extras: All platforms.

pdassi (3/5)

Number of apps: ~4,500 in android section
Payment methods: Payapal, credit and debit cards.
Activity: ~13,000 downloads on most popular android application. Other sections much more well used it seems.
Extras: Native android client. All platforms. Good localization for german, dutch and italian.

Comments? Did I miss any? Do you know any devices that ship with an alternative android makert?

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Android versions in the wild

Google recently released figures on the version numbers of Android phones accessing the android market. It's just validating what mostly all developers already know. All 1.5+ versions are important to support and different screens are as important.

Users are very fast to let developers know this, though. Already 3 months before the OTA update of Android 2.2 for my Nexus One I got a message about not being able to find an application in the 2.2 market from a user. The error is common, a default manifest file that has limits on API versions. I couldn't have tested the application on a higher API level at the development time so the abscence in the untested OS was not really an error. However it shows how easy it is to get feedback from users to correct such errors.

I have also gotten feedback on enabling the 2.2 install device (SD card or phone memory) as well as automatically generated crash reports that are also new in android 2.2. Adding to that it is for an application exclusively for Sweden where no 2.2 device has even been sold as of yet (but of course imported in different shady ways).

The chart below shows how important it is to keep backwards-compatibility in your applications, just like for web development and old browsers. Luckily the android emulators are very good and theres a fully functioning image for each and every API level. There's also other developer emulator images circling around where you can test the functions missing in the default images, such as a paid-app enabled market.

Historic development of Android versions