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Preemptive FAIL : Five easy things Verizon isn't doing to fix Android

It's all over the place; Verizon is embracing Android. Google loving apologist geeks everywhere are heralding the 85 million new customers -- who are obviously ready to try Android, if only Verizon would let them -- as the beginning of a new era in mobile phone competition. The cries of panacea are all I've heard all day:

"It's going to be a floodgate of new users! "

"Death to the iPhone!"

And, as one particularly difficult to satisfy commenter on another blog wrote:

"Get over yourselves apple and make a new product."

I'll have to admit, as a current G2, and previous G1 owner, I was a little excited myself. Then I read one thing from the joint Verizon/Google press call which made me crestfallen.

"Verizon also has no plans to make any changes to the Android Market."

And with that, all my dreams of an Android controlled world ran away like so much sand through my fingers. This is an enormous mistake, Verizon. Care to know why? The Android Market is terrible. It's worse than terrible, it's horrible.

Horrible, and just a little bit dangerous.

I've got a list of five things Verizon must do to the Android Market if they're to have any hope of even modest success.

Upgrade all

My iPod Touch does it, why can't you Android? Just one little button which allowed me to upgrade all, and no more clearing my whole notification list just to get rid of all the "Successfully Installed" messages.

Here's a UI/UX hint; Tell me when something doesn't work. Otherwise, leave me alone. Notifications are for important things like email and SMS. Right now I have 5 apps waiting to upgrade on my phone, and I'm dreading it like a visit to the dentist.

Reconfirming access I've already granted, during upgrades

Which brings us to my next major complaint. I already granted you access to my calendar/email/dialer/coffee grinder when I installed the first time, why do I have to grant access again? If this is the kind of awesome usability standards we can expect from Chrome OS, someone pass me a pile of Microsoft stock.

Anything resembling screen shots

Not having screen shots is just braindead. If you want to compete with Apple, user experience is so essential as to make irrelevant nearly any other factor until you fix this. Android 1.6 does include screen shots in the Market, or at least the ability to display them, but I'm left to wonder how many apps just won't have them by the time "Donut" makes it out to everyone.

It's not like they made it easy to grab screens on Android phones. I personally think this is a primary cause of the (admittedly) few great Android apps not getting much coverage on the web. As a blogger who has snapped shots and created a gallery for a hot iPhone app within minutes of its release, I'm telling you It's just too hard to get screen shots in a hurry on Android. If the app is on both platforms, I'm picking the iPhone version every single time.

iPhone apps are enticing. I get excited when I look at them. They're like porn, only without the boobies, and with lots more smooth gradients and pretty controls.

That Google held screen shots as such a low priorty that we're only beginning to see them in the Market a year after launch is more than pathetic. It's just plain ol' poor execution. It's also endemic of everything wrong with Google. Complete disrespect of the average user's time. I'm a nerd, and I'll lay on the couch trying app after app until I find something I like -- the average person will not.

Simple math tells you there are a lot more "average users" than people like me. Common sense tells you that you don't sell the steak, you sell the sizzle. The Android Market is way more like refrigerated bologna, even in 1.6.

Comment moderation to remove the trash from the Market reviews

Almost daily I'm reminded who else bought G1 phones. Braindead thugs who comment on clearly marked "root only" apps with gems like "Y0, Dis ain't no workin. 1 star. Any ladies, hit me up on myspace." Joined by slightly more literate users who have absolutely zero idea what the app they just downloaded is intended to do.

My all time favorite descriptive gem in the Market? "Stupid"

Yah, that'll show'em.

Here's a thought. Maybe if the Market had screen shots, a few of these people would realize it's not the app, it's them. You know, kinda like how they put pictures on the menu at Waffle House so you can just point when you're too stupid, lazy, drunk -- or all three -- to speak.

Sure, the stupid people will still be stupid. I'm just looking for anything that might keep them out of my sight line.

Vetting of applications

There has to be something in-between total anarchist free-for-all of the current Android Market and the tightly controlled Apple App Store approval mafia. Any approval system is going to have edge cases, but isn't Google supposed to be litterally busting at the gills with well-fed smart people?

For crying out loud, I downloaded "Bsodroid" from the Market and I was blue-screening Windows boxes on my local network within seconds. If I weren't such a nice guy, I'd be dozing on my couch right now while ruining porn-browsing time for whichever neighbor it is who insists on leaving his access point open. I realize that Microsoft is really at fault for not fixing the TCP stack bug which allows the attack but, come on! What is this doing in the Market?

Tags: android, bad ideas, BadIdeas, FAIL, G1, G2, iphone, lists, market, news, opensource, verizon