Android Market changes cause headaches for users

A trio of changes to the Android Market have again brought the issue of platform fragmentation to the fore and left some users with a sour taste in their mouth.

Android and Me has reported that many users who downloaded a number of EA Mobile and Gameloft games found themselves stuck with useless purchases, thanks to an unfortunate combination of platform fragmentation and Android Market rules.

As Neowin reported earlier this month, the Android Market app received a facelift along with a few under-the-hood tweaks, key among them a change to the market's refund policy which meant users had just 15 minutes, rather than 24 hours, to get their money back for an unwanted or incompatible app. The maximum app size allowed on the Market was also doubled to 50MB and developers were given the ability to target Android devices based on screen sizes and densities.

What developers remained unable to do is target individual handset models, which is where last week's trouble began. Many users who downloaded a number of games including Need for Speed: Shift, The Sims 3, Tetris and Fifa 10 were only informed their devices were incompatible with the apps after downloading.

To make matters worse, EA Games and Gameloft are among a number of developers who, unable to fit their games within Google's 50MB limit, have devised systems that download the remainder of a game's content - often hundreds of megabytes in size - after the initial purchase is completed.

Users were frustrated to discover that the second ''extra'' download often took more than 15 minutes, putting them outside the Android Market's 15-minute refund window. Whether or not the app will work at all can only be determined after both the Android Market and the ''extra'' download have finished. It remains to be seen if Google will eventually provide developers with a way to ensure users cannot even begin to download an app which is incompatible with their handset.

Image Credit: Android and Me

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39 Comments

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It seems that Apple's strategy re the app store works well from shielding their users from this. 'Normal' people who don't follow sites like Neowin can't cope with this.

I don't think increasing the 15min ruling is a solution anyway, it's a band aid at best. If a user buys multiple apps at once for instance then increasing that limit from 15min to 30 min may not help. Hell you could increase it to a day and the user might buy it while on a train then loser 3G reception and be able to get the app in its entirety until next week.

Devs should have the option to target specific devices in the store given some appear to do it with their applications already. Secondly, the 50MB limit is stupid and these sorts of work arounds are just an extra burden on consumers and the developers. Get rid of it, even if you limit downloads to a 3G network however even that seems unnecessary if the downloading tool can be made to resume failed downloads. That or release a small desktop market app and enforce the use of that for downloading larger applications.

I think that a 15 minute window to get a refund its virtually inposible as its not enough time to either test the app or even download it because not allot of people are on hight speed conections and also depends on the file. That said I also think that the android market needs to be re designed and a new platerform inplemented as the current choice of apps and the way they are organised its not as good, android being an open sourse app market means you can get less great apps unlike apple but android will become bigger and better as the devices are awesome

android being a new kid on the block sort of speak will have many ideas that will luck in depth but then again I am sure they will get ahead and adventure on to greater things and better applications

Android market is the one thing I hate about my phone. It's so clogged with garbage its near impossible to find anything if you don't already know what you're looking for. I don't want people limited, that just proves jobs is right, but I do want it organized. The porn and ring tone crap needs to be properly sorted, and if developers fail to follow the rules, THEN get rid of them.

Hopefully this will change soon. I love my Android phone but I haven't purchased anything from the Market before. I liked Angry Birds but thats pretty much it for me, I don't like handheld gaming.

Really, 50mb limit? Ok... 50MB limit for the user to download over 3G, but there shouldn't be a limit on the wifi connections. I mean if it is over 50mb, require a wifi connection. This is not rocket science... :\

chorpeac said,
Really, 50mb limit? Ok... 50MB limit for the user to download over 3G, but there shouldn't be a limit on the wifi connections. I mean if it is over 50mb, require a wifi connection. This is not rocket science... :\

And what if an android update like last one breaks your wifi ? xD lol ... happened to me I still love android but can never win sometimes.

15 Minute return policy was a bad idea from the start. Even if you do manage to download a larger game in under that time it still doesnt give you enough time to test your purchase. If games are reduced to the type that dont appeal in under 10 minutes then the quality of games will be poor.

Also the 15 minutes is against British consumer law. We are allowed 3 days to return a distance purchase for any reason and I dont see how this is any different.

Zerosignull said,
...Also the 15 minutes is against British consumer law. We are allowed 3 days to return a distance purchase for any reason and I dont see how this is any different.

That law doesn't apply to digital downloads, physical goods only.
And yes, 15 minutes is extreme from what it used to be, 1-2 hours is more realistic for anyone to really use certain apps and find out if they're any good.

Another bad article from a writer not doing their homework

First: Gameloft is not in the Android market so your comments about them make no sense.

Second: The issues with Need for Speed have NOTHING to do with fragmentation. I bought the game two weeks ago and it worked perfectly on my Galaxy S. Going by all the positive comments at that time, it worked well for almost everyone. Then just before Christmas they released a bum patch that made the game unplayable for me and many others. The day after that patch they put the game on sale. Those two together was enough to cause a stir but throw in the small 15 minute return policy and then you have a real whirlwind on your hand.

The only issue here is EA released a bad update to their game and the Android Market return policy is not good for customers. There is no fragmentation story here. Check out my blog post for more on what really is going on.

http://lettersfromdave.wordpre...ng-to-do-with-fragmentaion/

I am very disappointed with the latest market facelift. What's that green bar occupying half of my screen? The second update was great, the one with the tabs. It was perfect! Google, What are you doing? Not just that but well over 50% of the time I get server errors! I am not sure if the problem is with my service or the market's servers! Has anyone had server problems? I mean it, nearly every time I access the market I get popups with server/network errors! Oh, is there anyway I can get access to previous market version? The one with the tabs. HTC Hero Sense UI 2.1 original....

I thought there were Android fanboys (or non-fanboys) who claimed fragmentation wasn't an issue. Is this not an example of an issue where fragmentation partly contributes to this?

That's why developers test their apps for any incompabilities issues and make sure it works to prevent this problem for the end user.

WirelessTeen said,
That's why developers test their apps for any incompabilities issues and make sure it works to prevent this problem for the end user.

True, but Android's fragmentation is creating a much bigger problem for developers than some people realize. And these revised terms are Google's, not the 3rd party developer's...

M_Lyons10 said,

True, but Android's fragmentation is creating a much bigger problem for developers than some people realize. And these revised terms are Google's, not the 3rd party developer's...

Every mobile platform has fragmentation and Android is following Windows Mobile's footstep and its a nightmare to any developers out there.

^^Im sure they will get this cleaned up soon. Bad publicity and headaches is the wrong way. It will be fixed soon, they will feel the wrath otherwise and I dont think they are that stupid.

And the developers themselves are not offering refunds for incompatibilities? I am sure that that Consumer Protection groups (eg: ACCC/CA, FTC/BBB, OFT/CAB etc.) would have something to say about this.

I've been downloaded games in the App store bigger than 300Mb without any problem, once i get a really cool GPS app, it was bigger than 1 GB, no problems at all.

With the Android market sometimes you start a download (or you try to start) and it takes hours to begin, sometimes i used to reboot my Android to see if the download started, sometimes it's really a pain.

Get it together, Google.

Also, I'd love to know what screenshot app the author of this article is using

KSib said,
Get it together, Google.

Also, I'd love to know what screenshot app the author of this article is using

Well, any screenshot app will do that. PicPick is free and then you have paid ones like SnagIT.

And the fragmentation issue continues to cause problems... I wonder if Google will ever get it. Android is heading in the same direction as Windows Mobile, and we know how that ended...

One of the mail selling points of WP7 in my opinion.

M_Lyons10 said,
And the fragmentation issue continues to cause problems... I wonder if Google will ever get it. Android is heading in the same direction as Windows Mobile, and we know how that ended...

Windows Mobile was hardly fragmented. A majority of applications were fully compatible from 6.5.3 to version 5 and most devices were running 6 and above. Windows Mobile died out as all devices (except HD2) used resistive screens and the UI wasn't "touch friendly" compared to other competitors. The OS itself, feature wise at least, is still far more advance than anything else that is on offer.

Android is still growing at a rapid pace but I think Google may end up having to force manufacturer's to support the phone for at least two years and set a deadline for major updates to be released to those devices

M_Lyons10 said,
And the fragmentation issue continues to cause problems... I wonder if Google will ever get it. Android is heading in the same direction as Windows Mobile, and we know how that ended...

One of the mail selling points of WP7 in my opinion.


Absolutely, I agree with you. WP7 brings a new strategy to the table, I'm glad to have a device to see where the platform goes.

M_Lyons10 said,
And the fragmentation issue continues to cause problems... I wonder if Google will ever get it. Android is heading in the same direction as Windows Mobile, and we know how that ended...

One of the mail selling points of WP7 in my opinion.


This is not a fragmentation issue but it is Google's fault.

* Increase application size if developers are asking indirectly
* Increase back to 24 hours
* Add a "minrequirementsspec" to the .APKs and "specs" to their latest Android build.

Problem solved on all corners.

M_Lyons10 said,
And the fragmentation issue continues to cause problems... I wonder if Google will ever get it. Android is heading in the same direction as Windows Mobile, and we know how that ended...

One of the mail selling points of WP7 in my opinion.

What about Windows on PC's equally fragmented with incompatibilities etc look how that turned out. That aside though, google need to work with handset makers so their GUI's work and take over deploying updates to the entire user base and not leaving it to the device makers and only updating the nexus line. They also need to provide clear lifecycles for devices IE: how long they will be supported what can and can't be done with the duration of it and what updates it will receive during that period in relation to how fast google is deploying iterations of android.

too bad. one reason I love the trial versions on WP7.. You know not only if it is compatible but if it is laggy as well on your device. They need something like that

That's not good. I wonder if google refund the money back or if the people who purchased useless apps are poop out of luck...

Google needs to get with the program, 50MB limit is a joke.
What if a developer shuts down? You can't download the app anymore.

FYI-one of the largest apps on the App Store is 1.86GB

acnpt said,
FYI-one of the largest apps on the App Store is 1.86GB

Yes, because we ALL want to download 2gb worth of apps to our phones. Moreso over slow 3G connections that drop out with our left hands.

Raa said,

Yes, because we ALL want to download 2gb worth of apps to our phones. Moreso over slow 3G connections that drop out with our left hands.
There is Wi-Fi. If you are talking about Android, 3G is only there because Wi-Fi is not everywhere.

Seems to me that it's more the application publisher's fault here not the Android market system. After the first download is complete it should check if the game was compatible with that device, and not have the user download unnecessary data that takes time and invalidates refund.

Publisher's fault, not the Android market system like the strongly opinionated article tries to make believe.

Lechio said,
Seems to me that it's more the application publisher's fault here not the Android market system. After the first download is complete it should check if the game was compatible with that device, and not have the user download unnecessary data that takes time and invalidates refund.

Publisher's fault, not the Android market system like the strongly opinionated article tries to make believe.

Or not:
"What developers remained unable to do is target individual handset models"

If it takes 20 mins to download, you already are outside the window of return now...compatibility should ALWAYS be a pre-check.

hmm i say is both the market and the developers fault, but more so the market cause of their new 15 minute rule for a refund, ea had need for speed out for android for a while now so you cant really blame them, the android market recently made up the 15 minute , and at the same time didnt google say that now the market wont let you download apps that weren't built for your phone?

Lechio said,
Seems to me that it's more the application publisher's fault here not the Android market system. After the first download is complete it should check if the game was compatible with that device, and not have the user download unnecessary data that takes time and invalidates refund.

Publisher's fault, not the Android market system like the strongly opinionated article tries to make believe.

Raa said,

Yes, because we ALL want to download 2gb worth of apps to our phones. Moreso over slow 3G connections that drop out with our left hands.

If you had a clue about what you are commenting about, you would know that you can't download large apps over 3G. It is limited to WiFi. Nice try though.

Lechio said,
Seems to me that it's more the application publisher's fault here not the Android market system. After the first download is complete it should check if the game was compatible with that device, and not have the user download unnecessary data that takes time and invalidates refund.

Publisher's fault, not the Android market system like the strongly opinionated article tries to make believe.

It is part the markets fault in my opinion. 15 minutes refund time? Thats a joke, as the article says with larger applications you can't even get the download done in that time so you have no choice but to keep the app.