back to article Developer fury as Google makes Android apps vanish

Android developers are furious about Google's changes to the way search works in the Android application marketplace. The changes were put into place on 1 July, and since then, a lot of previously very popular applications have now effectively disappeared. The anger on the Android forums is partly financial – one developer …


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  1. dotdavid

    Google Arrogance

    "partly irritation at Google's arrogance: the company hasn't bothered to respond."

    This is the worst thing about Google. You and I see their lack of response as arrogance; they see it as "the engineers are busy fixing the bug you reported, wouldn't you rather have them do that then respond to your email?". A post on Google Operating System explained it; reading it was a eureka moment for me!

    If there's one thing I've learned from my years of working in IT, it's that users value communication very highly. If there is a problem the best thing you can do is keep them up-to-date so they know what progress is being made on the resolution.

    Joke alert because Google's support is often one.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Your lack of a joke . . .

      when using the "Joke Alert" icon is clearly a misrepresentation designed to deceive. It is downright dishonest, indeed dispicable and a deplorable act, not to mention a dereliction of duty. I am disgusted. I feel demeaned and devalued.

      1. dotdavid

        It's no joke

        Allow me to demonstrate my deepest apologies which are undoubtably due.

      2. John Angelico

        Feeling D-valued?


    2. TheRead

      Just another reminder that

      Google knows what's best, as Google likes to remind us in all their products.

      "We know what the customers really want is for us to fix issues, so we'll do that without letting them know."

      What are customers expecting? Feedback on their feedback? A quick response that Google is aware of the issues? Crazy!

      I'm sure at this point the "customer service reps" don't even have a real "Reply" button. Receive the issue, determine if it is an issue, hit "Reply" and the same message gets sent out automatically every time.

      "Thank you for spending the time and bothering to email us. Please don't expect any further responses or update from the company, if the issue gets fixed hopefully you will just notice."

      1. AdamWill

        They borrowed that button...

        ...from Microsoft, didn't they?

    3. Anonymous Coward

      So very true!

      "If there's one thing I've learned from my years of working in IT, it's that users value communication very highly."

      More less what my first manager drummed into me when she said, "No matter how big a cock-up you make, make sure someone knows what happened, give 'em the truth if you like that's up to you or your manager, but always, always make sure you keep telling 'em what you're doing to get it fixed. No matter how long it takes!"

  2. Arrrggghh-otron

    So they have made the search worse?

    I didn't think it was possible to make the search feature of the android market any worse than it already was... and this from a company with the best search engine.

    1. Fred Flintstone Gold badge

      Love it ..

      .. thanks, I missed that rather startling irony, grin. I need more coffee, obviously :-)

    2. BristolBachelor Gold badge

      Best search engine?

      I think you forgot to select the "joke" icon for your post.

      The Google search may have been good in the past, but now that it totally ignores some of your words in the search term, even if pre-fixed with a "+", and decides to search for something else instead: "Showing results for "PLT" show results for "PLL" instead"... I could go on but the post would be too long and I'd get depressed about how they killed other useful search engines "Altavista, etc.", and then went crap.

      1. Arrrggghh-otron

        Perhaps not the best anymore

        Yeah ok saying 'best' was probably taking things a bit far, and it does annoy at times with it's assumed defaults. I still can't think of a better search engine. I am happy to try any alternatives.

        1. Mister Major
          Thumb Up


          Then have a try of Duck Duck Go... Provides good, solid results with minimal faff.

          In particular have a look at their privacy policy - no collection or sharing of your personal data.

          1. Arrrggghh-otron

            Results aren't particularly well organised

            I did try it, and the results just aren't very well ordered and you don't get as much of an impression as to the actual content of the site. Perhaps that is just down to me being used to the formatting of googles search results, but I can usually glance down a page of googles search results and pick out the ones that are likely to be of interest.

          2. Fred Flintstone Gold badge
            Big Brother

            Try instead

            That includes Google, but without the privacy risks.

  3. Ru

    Didn't they make their fortune selling ads?

    The fact they happen to do operating systems and email and search is sort of a bonus, especially as they give away most of that sort of thing for free.

    1. MarkieMark1

      let me fix that for you

      didn't they make their fortune selling people the business names those people had mistakenly assumed they already owned?

      there, fixed :-)

  4. Thomas 4
    IT Angle


    The Android Marketplace is now disorganised and chaotic? I can't say I've noticed any difference.....

    1. Anonymous Coward


      Just rename your application so it is more visible in the market. Not a big deal.

      sent from my soon-to-be-released miracle gDevice.

    2. Tigra 07
      Thumb Up

      RE: Thomas

      Same here, i can still find what i want and it loads faster aswell.

  5. This post has been deleted by a moderator

  6. Mondo the Magnificent


    And just to think how Apple got flamed for the way they handle the App Store!

    Of course the Android Marketplace was supposed to be everything that the App Store isn't, benefiting both developers and Andoid users.

    Well, hasn't the tide taken a turn for the worst now? It was only a question of time before Google stamped their authorative bootprint onto Android apps.

    It's the typical knee jerk reaction to take control and manage a growing monster. Sure the Jobsian App Store is not perfect, but then again, it seems as if the Andoid App Marketplace is losing its develpor friendly approach too... sadly...

    1. Paul M 1


      Of course as an Android user one can choose to use another App Store if you're not happy with Google's.....

      1. Maliciously Crafted Packet


        but it will still be a train wreck of spam ridden malware infested apps with no decent games available. And its search functionality will probably be worse.

        Better off with an iDevice where the app store works just fine and dandy.

        1. Mark 65


          Ever tried searching for something in the iOS App Store? It's a pain in the arse to find anything as you cannot filter by anything relevant. Less malware for sure, but no more searchable.

        2. BristolBachelor Gold badge

          iDevice store

          Yeah, the iApp iStore works fine...

          I search for apps, and it shows me loads. I click one read all the crap and decide I want it. I click buy. I click download; then it tells me that the app is not compatible!

          I go back to the list, look at a few more, and decide to buy another one. Click buy, click download and it tells me that it's not compatible either. Rinse and repeat a few more times. After maybe an hour I eventually have a simple SSH app that I really wanted an hour ago.

          Please explain how that is working fine and dandy..

          1. D@v3

            Not compatible?


            You do know that at the side of the apps, in the description giving version numbers, date of release, the developer and such, just underneath there is a 'Requirements' section, might be worth checking there before downloading.

            Also, unless you are still using iOS 2.x on a 3G or older, you really shouldn't be having any problems. it's not like your trying to run an android app coded to work on an HTC phone, on a samsung phone.

          2. Anonymous Coward


            Bullshit alert

          3. Gav

            Problem originates between keyboard and chair

            If only there was somewhere on the application description where the app requirements and compatibilities were listed. That would save so much time.

            Of course, that won't help you if you don't read it. It's a problem all right.

  7. Paul Shirley

    Google standard practice, ignore, evade, do what they like

    Wonder if that's related to the 'surprising' filtering going on in the app review lists in the new Market app. Instead of displaying reviews in date order with minimal filtering (just spam), they're now in some unfathomable order that appears semi random with a heavy dose of burying low ratings.

    It's bizarre finding 4&5 star reviews from Jan or even last year topping the lists, regardless of what current review ratings actually are. Their woefully broken Maps 5.7.x series used to feature around 40% 1 star ratings and has done for 2+months. Now you'll struggle to see more than 1 in 20 low ratings.

    It's tempting to say it's deliberate but the damage is too random and too widespread. My own app fell from 1st to 5th in its small (7 result) search, despite having higher reviews and more downloads than all the rest combined. My guess is someone made a catastrophic error in the ratings algorithm and the single 1* review last week matters more than anything else.

    I don't buy the 'let the engineers get on with fixing it'. There's a long standing problem with G both not responding and eventually it becoming clear they aren't actually working on a fix. Trying to get bad map locations on Maps fixed is a complete waste of time in my experience, Android bugs go unfixed for years and feedback never, ever happens till someone with a big enough PR stick intervenes.

    1. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

      Possibly logical

      I see a case for grouping together positive and negative reviews of an app. What's good about it, and what may not be.

      On the other hand, the apps that I have experience of frequently get free updates to newer versions. So older reviews may be talking about bad features that have been improved, or about good features that were broken or removed in a new edition.

      1. Framitz

        Any other order . . .

        The most valid way to display reviews or comments is chronological. Yes you might see a bunch of bogus reviews together that way, but common sense should help weed those out.

        The new markets way of putting selected reviews in no particular order is worse than useless, it is counter productive. This needs to be fixed.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    [smug mode engaged]

    at least with the iOS appstore, we knew Apple would have the tight control of it, and so you're not overly surprised when they do things without telling people.

    but with Android, people have been under the delusion that Google are their best friends, and as such, comes as quite a shock when they act like any other large corporation

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Ahem. Pot, meet Kettle ...

      "but with Android, people have been under the delusion that Google are their best friends"

      You mean ...

      Just like what happens when people find out Apple isn't their best pal either?


      1. Anonymous Coward

        Try reading instead of being smug

        If you read the post you so smugly replied to, you'd have noticed it said at the get-go, "you know you're going to get shafted by Apple, there are no illusions of control".

  9. Doug 3

    get a life people

    this article doesn't say what the problem is, what kind of apps are not being listed when searched by name( scam apps maybe? ) or anything other than some app developers don't like the changes. Yet post after post is about big brother google. WTF, are there that many chicken little followers out there?

  10. Little Me

    apple win?

    and so as the android world thrashes around...... Apple's closed and controlled world appeals more and more to normal people (who just want it to work to and don't worry about being restrained)

    1. Alan Twelve

      normal people

      Yes, my completely non-technical old mum who can't work computers, for example. She was going to get an Android phone, but after reading about the Market search issues on the Google support forums, she's now getting an iphone. Fuck sake...

      1. dotdavid

        Let me get this straight

        "Yes, my completely non-technical old mum who can't work computers, for example. She was going to get an Android phone, but after reading about the Market search issues on the Google support forums, she's now getting an iphone"

        So your completely non-technical mother now develops iPhone apps? Because if she wasn't a developer, why would she be that concerned about this?

        Would explain a lot of the sub-par iPhone ports I've been seeing in the Android Market recently ;-)

        1. Anonymous Coward

          RE: Let me get this straight


          Wow, just wow!

          (Where's the "flying over your head" icon?)

        2. Alan Twelve

          RE: Let me get this straight

          Gah! I'd hoped it would be obvious that I was taking the piss out of Little Me's post.

          1. dotdavid


            My sarcasm detector malfunctioned somewhat just there...

    2. Anonymous Coward

      apple win???

      Yeah because developers never complain about the Apple app store do they? In fact I would struggle to find one single complaint about Apple's secret inclusion policy, no in app purchases from developer's sites, change of terms and conditions that remove their app from the app store, puritanical restrictions on content.\, restrictions on programming language you can use...etc. In fact to test I just did a search on Apple's corporate support system - nope not one. Must be that developer just can't find anything to complain about Apple. Long live the king!

      This is developer complaints not "normal people".

  11. Dave Murray

    "Searching by developer name, which a consumer is not likely to do"

    Actually I search by developer name on the Market quite often. If I like an app then I often click the "View more applications" link in the Developer Info section of the app's Market entry. That does a search by developer name.

  12. rvt

    Talk to the claw...

    Google's usual response is:

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

      Die Tatze. Die Kralle.

      It's not a claw, it's a paw. he claw is part of a paw.

  13. Zippy the Pinhead

    Its funny

    Its funny how the largest search engine company does searching so poorly in its own app market.

  14. Frank Drebin

    Feeling it.

    I'm feeling the developer community's pain here, even though I'm just a regular end-user pleb.

    Google's lacking support infrastructure is perhaps THE biggest issue that counts against them in my book. With Google, so much is free (in exchange for the opportunity to sell everything down to your DNA blueprints for advertising opportunities, granted!), but they use this freeness as an unacknowledged get-out clause for leaving users totally without decent support.

    So this story is sadly classic Google. They randomly change something (usually with their infuriating involuntary "opted-you-in" ethic) and lo, they break something horribly. You try to get help using their horribly emaciated help forums, only to find your problem left utterly ignored despite having a good number of other users posting in agreement. And even if you are lucky enough to snag a Google Employee response, it is usually exactly as outlined in the article: "ok, we'll look into it" and then a month later, "engineers still working on it lol, k thx bye!"

    And this isn't me being a miserablist-by-proxy: I'm presently one of the thousands who's stock Android calendar app lost all its appointments and cannot keep them even when they randomly come back. It's still unfixed even in its third month. Utterly gobsmacking. Don't get me wrong, I prefer Android far and away over the Third iReich, but it is BECAUSE of my love for and dependence on Google's services that I feel so let down and abandoned when things go wrong.

    You know, I'd gladly pay £20 a month for some kind of premium Google service where all the products & services I depend on get dedicated, timely and dependable support, just as iDevice owners can call up and expect a good result. Apple's brand image paranoia is good at least for that - it ensures Apply take ownership of their products. As a devout Google user, though, I live day-to-day praying something else won't horrifically fuck up.

    Anyone else feel like this?

  15. Roger Stenning

    Colour me unsurprised.

    What a great big honking surprise.


    Just look at the ho-ha over trying to get colours into the google calender application.

    Ye gods, you'd think they were being asked to pull their own teeth with rusty pliars (hmm....) from the practically zero level responses to the custoemrs (scuse me, guinea pigs) out there.

    Now, I WAS thinking of getting an adroid phone to replace my winmob one, but after all the fiascos with I-whatever and g-whatever, I'm saying stuff that, and sticking with what I know works, and the hell with trendiness and whatnot.

  16. Anonymous Coward


    We learn fandroids are more rabid than fanbois...

    This should come as no surprise to anyone who has worked with google before. Ever used adwords? Or adsense, etc? You will know you at the mercy of Google. People have slated Apple for this, and praised Googles "open" approach to their marketplace. No doubt I will get the fandroids voting me down for daring to abise their love.

    Please do not suggest using another marketplace, unless you are in the US and can use Amazon, nothing comes close for traffic and sales to Googles own app store. You too can now do the merry dance of spiralling death with googles algorithms. Apparently this is hittiiing all sorts of apps, not just spam.

  17. MrNo
    Thumb Up

    In google we trust

    It must be Apple's fault!!!

  18. whbjr

    Searching by what means?

    Why do I have the feeling that searching plain old for "Android Market foobar" would get more reliable results than searching the Android Market for "foobar"?

    1. Rattus Rattus

      Searching for apps

      That's what I do. That way I also get reviews and comparisons and even links to non-market apps. Then I just scan the QR code of the one I've chosen to go straight to it's market page.

  19. Tom Ring

    Well that clinches it

    This changes what I was going to buy. I've had several people more knowledgable than me say that Android was the way to go because of the apps. And the price. And it was also linux.

    I am a Blackberry fan, on my 3rd phone, and after the reviews, what Apple does to control its minion millions, and what Google has now done, I'm going with a Blackberry Playbook.

    They have a long history of not screwing with their customer base.

    I still wish it was linux.


    I shred, therefore I still am.

  20. jocaferro

    So many...

    ... Android developers around here!

  21. Shannon Jacobs

    Why did Google become EVIL?

    My theory is it isn't really Google's fault. The American legal system basically requires large public corporations to become evil. It's not that all businessmen are evil. I still believe that most businessmen are fine, upstanding people--but "most businessmen" are NOT the businessmen who are buying politicians to rewrite the legal rules of the game in their favor. The evolution has been slow but steady, and it now seems to take less than a decade for a good company to go bad--by succeeding under those laws..

  22. Duncan Hothersall


    This must be why having read your review of Historypin and decided to download it, I couldn't find it in the market when I typed in its exact name.

    Roll on Amazon's market launching in the UK.

  23. Atonnis

    I'd be more interested... a search facility for application shops that randomise the results. It could stop people carefully crafting their spiels for maximum Google-effect and start offering a full range of products to the consumers.

  24. sellnosoup


    I noticed one of my apps drop to near zero in sales...

    After figuring out you can't find the app anymore by searching for it by name or any of the key words in the app description, I logged a fault with Google.

    They replied saying that they are always working on their searching algorithms, and that they've sent the issue off to be investigated...

    Some of my other apps, are fine and you can still find them by name...

    WOW! I thought I was the only one with this problem... Thanks el reg for blowing this story wide open for me!

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