Finding Apps on Google Play

Search or browse for the best apps for your Android device

Google Play
Screen Capture

As more and more developers submit their apps to Google Play, it can be challenging to sort through all the options. The Android store has come a long way in making its app browser-friendly, especially once you learn a few simple shortcuts.

If you are new to Google Play or have trouble finding what you're looking for, these tips should get you in and out of the Android store more quickly—unless, of course, you enjoy the window shopping.

The information below applies to any Android device—including Samsung, Google, Huawei, and Xiaomi.

Use the Search tool

If you heard about a great app that you want to check out, use the Search tool at the top of the Play Store screen to simply type in the name of the app. Don't worry if you can't remember the exact name. Enter as much as you can remember or some terms describing what the app does.

Search on the Google Play Store

For example, let's say you heard that Cardio Trainer is a great running app and you decide to install it. Unfortunately, by the time you get around to it, you can't remember the name. Typing "cardio," "fitness," or "running" will bring up a list of all the apps that match your search criteria. Obviously, the more of the app name you enter the higher the likelihood that you'll find the exact app. However, the search tool is smart and powerful enough to deliver results that closely match your criteria.

If you're looking for a popular app, like Spotify, the Play Store will suggest it first, even displaying its logo, as soon as you start typing something similar. This way, finding popular apps is much quicker.

You can also search for a certain task or function that you're looking for an app to perform, even if you don't have a specific app in mind. In the pictured example, a search for "buy tickets" brought up a series of apps that allow you to purchase tickets to various events online.

Category Searches

Every app in Google Play is assigned a specific category. If you are looking for a new game to play, choose the Games category and scroll through all the apps that fit the category.

Each app will be listed according to its name, the app developer, and the total customer-rating. The apps are listed out in categorized rows, and there are a lot of them. The common ones you'll find are Recommended, Top Rated, Top Paid, and Top Free. Depending on the category, you'll see more ways to sort and categorize listings.

Google Play Store categories

If you want a more precise breakdown, you can choose the Categories section within your category. Under Games, you'll find all sorts of genres of games that can help you narrow your search and find something you might not have expected to find.

When you find an app that looks interesting, select it to read a brief description of the app, look at screenshots, and read customer reviews. If you rely on customer ratings as your main resource, make sure you read plenty of reviews. Many people write wonderful reviews but give the app only 1 star. Others give low ratings because they expected the app to do something that the developer never stated the app will do.

Apps on the Home Screen​

When your first launch Google Play, you'll arrive on the home screen. This screen is broken down into rows that show relevant content, such as apps you recently installed on other devices and new apps in a category that you like. You can keep scrolling through the featured listings, as you may find something worth downloading.

Google Play Store home screen

The home screen also offers a few other ways to find apps. Use the menu at the top to take a look at the Top Charts. These are the biggest or newest free and paid apps—the apps and games that are getting the most attention.

You can also defer to the Play Store's editors with the Editor's Choice section. These are people that review apps professionally, and they usually know what to look for. The page is broken into common app categories to help you find what you're looking for.

Forums and Social Media Sites​

One thing is for sure, people love to share. If you visit Android forums, you'll find lots of discussions about unique or popular games and apps, often with links to the apps in the Google Play store.

An Android smartphone without any apps installed is like a computer without any programs. Though all the choices that are available may be overwhelming at first, 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.