Finding Apps on Google Play

Google Play
Screen Capture

As more developers submit their apps to Google Play, it is becoming challenging to navigate your way through the tens of thousands of options. The Android store has come a long way and is fairly easy to navigate your way through once you learn a few simple shortcuts.

So if you are new to Google Play or find yourself struggling to find what you are looking for, these tips should get you in and out of the Android store more quickly (unless you just enjoy window shopping!)

  • Use the Search tool. If you heard about a great app from some friends or from some Internet forum, press the search tool in the market and type in the name of the app. Don't worry if you can't remember the exact name of the app. Just enter in as much as you can remember of the name or even what the app does.

For example, let's say you heard that Cardio Trainer is a great running app and you decide to install it. But by the time you get around to it, you can't remember the name. Entering just "cardio," "fitness," or "running" will bring up a listing of all the market apps that match your search criteria. I've tested this partial information search and was able to find the app I was looking for. Obviously, the more of the app name you enter the greater likelihood that you will find the exact app, but the search tool is smart enough and powerful enough to bring you results that closely match your criteria.

And in case you don't know where the search tool is, just click on the magnifying glass icon or press your menu key and select Search.

  • Category Searches. Every app in Google Play is assigned a specific category.

If you are looking for a new game to play, choose the Entertainment category and scroll through all the apps that fit that category.

Each app will be listed according to its name, the app developer and the total customer-rating. You can also search within a category for the Top Paid, Top Free or New+ Updated apps. Click on any app to read a brief description of the app, see a few screenshots and read customer reviews. If you rely on customer ratings as your main resource, make sure you read as many of the reviews as you can. Many people write wonderful reviews but give the app only 1 star. Others give low ratings as they expected the app to do something that the developer never stated that the app will do. As of the writing of this article, there are 26 different categories in Google Play and range from Books and Reference to Widgets.

  • Apps on the main screen. When your first launch Google Play, you will see three sections. The top section will be a scrolling list of some featured apps, the middle section will take you to the app categories, games or cell provider specific apps, and the bottom section will detail the Android feature apps.  
  • Forums and social media sites. One thing is for sure, people love to share. And (thankfully) one thing that people like to share is information about their favorite apps. If you visit any android forums, you'll probably come across an app review complete with a scannable bar code. If you have an app like "barcode scanner" installed on your Android phone, you can use it to scan in the barcode directly from your computer's monitor and be taken directly to Google Play where you can download the app. Many app developers are advertising in print media and including barcodes that you can scan and be directed right to either Google Play or to a specific website that provides details about the app. 

    An Android smartphone without any apps installed is like a computer without any programs. Though Google Play and all the choices available may be intimidating at first, using these simple tips and spending some time browsing around the market will get you quickly acclimated. Before long, your friends and co-workers will be coming to you for app advice. 

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