Well, as unexciting as it sounds, on face value little has changed with the Android Market now the paid apps have been made available to UK users.
As you can see, the front screen is much the same, and with no real indication that anything’s changed. The list of Features Apps along the top doesn’t appear to be particularly favouring the paid software, which is actually quite good, as otherwise a free would naturally struggle to get any coverage.
Here we were kind of hoping for a separation between free apps and paid ones, much as you can in the iPhone's App Store. The majority of the time you know whether you’re looking to spend, or pick something up for free, so some way to separate out the content would have been appreciated.
Scanning through the games list by popularity obviously shows a long list of free games, since these are the ones we’ve all been downloading the hell out of while we waited for the big games. Presumably this list will get a good shakeup in the coming weeks.
Looking at the games by date tells a very different story, however. We’ve seen over the last couple of weeks how many demos and lite versions have filled up the free Market, and now their bigger brothers have flooded in. There's a lot of recognisable names in there now, but you still don’t have to scroll all that far down to see the free apps mixed in.
What seems to have happened is a quick and dirty amalgamation of US and UK Markets, without so much as a basic currency conversions. Pounds are mixed in with dollars, which probably won’t matter too much to the Google Checkout system, but it seems like bad aesthetics putting a £3 game and a $3 game right next to each other. A cursory glance and we’re liable to miss the currency symbol, and glide right past the ‘expensive looking’ US apps.
Taking a quick look inside a demo version of a game, there’s no immediate link through to the full title, though we do have a rather handy button to show us what else the developer has on the Market. Clicking this takes us through to their own Market page, with a simple list of available software - including the full version.
This full version has the install button replaced with a Buy button, taking you through to a neat and slick version of the Google Checkout. All your info is pulled in automatically from your Google account, making it a very quick and easy transaction. We’ve got a full guide on buying Android apps for you, so head on over to check that one out in more detail. You do get a rough currency conversion on this page, which is something.
All in all, then, nothing’s really changed - we simply have price tags alongside some of the software. To be brutally honest, we’d hoped for an updated and more ‘browsable’ version, now we’re out shopping, though we didn’t entirely expect one.
We’ll give the whole thing a comparison to the iPhone’s App Store to try and quantify the similarities and differences between the two.
So, our first impression of the paid Android Market? Cluttered and unmanageable, but very easy to buy once you do finally hunt down the app you’re looking for. Needs some serious work if Google wants to help developers get their wares selling, though.