Google doesn’t have a track record for giving Gmail users an option to sort their emails by column, so it isn’t a big surprise that they don’t help us in that regard when it comes to the Android Market. That’s a shame, because helping people find what they’re looking for is supposed to be their forte, right? They are working on an enhanced web portal for the market. We users can always hope!
In the meantime, did you know you can search the Android Market using some of the same Boolean search techniques as you do when searching the web? You still can’t sort the search results (c’mon, Google!), but you can at least narrow your search results and cut out some of the junk.
For instance, I wanted to find some gardening apps. A search for just gardening brought up all kinds of fluff apps I didn’t want, things like photoclips, ringclips, and virtual garden games. So, I tried narrowing my search results by using the minus sign to exclude some of the apps I don’t want included in the search results.
gardening -ringclip -ringphoto -game -virtual
That brought up far more targeted results. You can also use a plus sign to indicate you only want to see results that include a given word:
That resulted in an app I might not otherwise have seen, at least not on the first page or two of results: Landscaper’s Companion.
You may have to tweak your search results a bit, just like you do when you’re searching for something within your web browser. I got different results by using garden vs. gardening, and resource vs. reference. You’ll get the hang of it if you keep trying.
It can be time consuming to type in search terms with your mobile phone, though, even if your phone has a QWERTY keyboard. So, consider the site I’ve linked to above, AppBrain. It’s not only a mirror of the market (like the defunct Cyrket, the domain now serving another purpose).
Oh, no. It’s much more. AppBrain lets you easily search the market, share app info with friends, and even make the chore of installing apps go more smoothly. There’s an AppBrain app for Android which allows you to sync your installed apps with AppBrain’s site. If you do a factory reset or go to a different phone, all you have to do is install AppBrain to quickly go through your previously-installed apps and reinstall them on your phone. You still have to okay the apps’ permissions, but you don’t have to look each one up.
There are backup utilities which do that, of course, but AppBrain has some other features I really like. The sync capability and recommendations feature.You can (but don’t have to) share your list of installed apps with people and view their installed apps. That’s a great way to see what apps are popular among your peers.
It’s also a lot easier to search for apps using AppBrain than it is to search the Android Market from your phone. Once you bring up an app on AppBrain’s site, you’ll see a QR code you can scan with a scanner app such as Barcode Scanner or Shop Savvy. That makes fast work of bringing the app up in the market. You can also indicate on the AppBrain site that you want to install apps, then open AppBrain on your phone. You can read more about that whole process on their site.
The DoubleTwist desktop client offers music syncing and a means to search the app market and view QR codes; however, it doesn’t have a means of syncing or installing apps.