May, 12 2011

Google chatted with the press following their day two keynote at I/O today. We’d already gotten a general idea of how they were thinking about Android going forward from yesterday’s Q&A and from the Android Fireside chat, but they were a bit reluctant to talk about the Android market. Now we know why – they were saving it all for the press briefing today.

The market is getting another facelift (on Android handsets, anyway) that’ll closely resemble the tablet and desktop versions. You can see just how much they’ve changed stylistically in the image to your right (which we thank TechCrunch for). Much like the featured carousel at the top, Google will now use an “Editors’ Choice” badge for applications they believe are trustworthy, of quality and very useful. There are a lot of other backend and frontend improvements that has us licking our chops.

For starters, they’ve added a dozen or so new categories and filtering options. You can now see what’s trending, top new free and top new paid apps, and the top free and top paid apps will focus on what’s more popular in those respective categories.

Another big change developers may like is an increase in size for applications – now at 4GB – and the ability to host archive files (files that bigger games need to download after the initial market download). Archive files are hosted and delivered by Google through the Android market so that the user can seamlessly download large games without having to leave the market.

And there’s even more – paid apps are now supported in 99 new countries. It’s a great milestone for Google who came under a great amount of scrutiny from both developers and users. Developers would miss out on huge opportunities to maximize revenue while users who’d rather get their paid applications from the Android market had no way to do that. I’m personally glad to see this one on the list. You can find the full list of supported countries at the Android website here.

Finally – and I hate to be the bearer of bad news here – Google is not increasing the 15 minute refund window. (Which is still 15 minutes longer than what competitors give you.) They have assured us that the 15 minute mark does NOT start until after the application has been fully downloaded and installed, though, which was the main complaint from a lot of you. In short – no, that 30 minute game download does not cut into your 15 minute window.

There were a few other changes for you developer types out there but you’ll likely be getting a note from Google themselves about those changes. What do you guys think of all this?

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