Earlier today, I put together a slideshow of 10 Android 3.0 Honeycomb apps for PC World. I don’t own a Motorola Xoom, so I used the Android Market website for research. It wasn’t easy finding apps that were designed with Google’s tablet OS in mind — there’s no dedicated section for them on the site — but I managed to eek out a list using a variety of search terms.
Then I noticed Kevin Tofel’s story for GigaOM on how the Android Market currently has 16 Honeycomb apps. He did it the easy way, by visiting the Market on a Xoom.
But here’s the problem: Kevin’s list doesn’t neatly overlap with mine. I found a few “3.0 and up” apps that don’t appear when you search directly on the tablet, such as TouchDown and Drawing Pad. I also missed a handful of apps that work fine on phones but are optimized for larger screens as well. Clearly, the system for finding tablet apps in the Android Market needs a lot of work.
On the web side, there’s no tablet app filter. Your only option is to search for terms like “Honeycomb” or to do a “site:market.android.com ’3.0 and up‘” Google search. Even then, you’ll miss Honeycomb-friendly apps such as Pulse, which doesn’t announce its tablet capabilities in the app description. That problem could be fixed with something like the “+” icon Apple uses to denote universal apps, along with a way to search for them specifically on the web.
On the tablet side, some apps are simply missing from the Market’s master list. I don’t know what’s going on there, but if Google expects developers to create a thriving market of Honeycomb apps, the app list will need to update consistently. The Market could also use an indicator of whether a smartphone app will work on Honeycomb tablets in the first place.
Google’s made some great strides lately with the Android Market, including in-app purchases, the new website and the ability to install an app remotely from the web. I hope the problems with identifying Honeycomb apps don’t become a long-term setback.