Developers, what is your biggest complaint against Google?


I love developing apps for Android. All the tech bloggers can say whatever they want, I’ve found it much easier to create an app for Android than I did during my brief tenure learning iOS development. However, nothing is perfect in life, and for the past few weeks I’ve been having a major complaint against Google, and their developer relations team and just about everyone involved with the Play store.

But before I get into my rant, I want to open up the comments to all developers who’ve been exasperated by anything for a long, long time. Maybe we get some good insight from others as to why things are the way they are, and if nothing else, the tiny bit of satisfaction that comes with getting things off our chests.

Primarily, I’m annoyed that as an Indian developer, I still cannot charge for apps. The issue is related to Google Checkout Merchant accounts, which a developer needs to sell apps. These accounts are not available in India, and several other countries.

My complaint is an old one: if you can’t pay us on Checkout, why not look for other ways? For developers in some countries, like Israel till until recently, payments were made to their AdSense accounts. That seems like an obvious way to go about it, until the issues are sorted out, right?

Not to Google, it isn’t. I posted the question to last week’s APAC Android Developer’s Office Hours hangout, and got the usual “we’re working hard on it, but cannot give any sort of time frame.” Nothing new there, we’ve been hearing this for years, and they even admitted it’s a very popular question. There’s no statement as to what the exact issue is. They’ve only stated problems with the government, but without giving any details it feels like a poor excuse: PayPal, which has a near identical system, have offered Merchant accounts over here for years, and they’ve never complained of any issue.

Because of this issue, I decided sell my recent app on Amazon. And despite a tiny sliver of users there, my earnings outweigh what I’ve got through my ad-supported version on Google Play. I’d love to be able to offer an ad-free, probably a fermium version on Play itself, but Google just won’t let me. And unfortunately, from experience, it feels like it could be a long, long time before they will.

So, developers, what are YOUR biggest complaints with Google. I’m certain there are more than a few, and having one doesn’t mean we love the platform any less. It’s just Google’s reluctance to look into a few issues can get extremely annoying.

Raveesh Bhalla

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  1. That’s my biggest gripe about dealing with Google at all. There’s no easy way to get a hold of them to air any grievances. And when you do find a way, they kind of sweep things away with a wave of their hand and think it fixes things.

    Their help forums are a great example. Once you find it and ask a question, the “best” answer usually ends up being nothing but some sort of fluff-speak which they then use to mark the thread answered.

    1. It’s like that with Apple too, yet people and developers are more happy with their walled garden.  I think that’s a lesser problem.

  2. Thanks for finally writing something like this.  I wish the blogosphere would bring light to the shortcomings of Google development more often.

    I’m with James, the biggest problem is not having a support line.  It’s seriously frustrating that there’s support for users who can’t download a $2 app from the market, but none for developers.  Many of us do this for a living.  Without developers, there is no Android.

    They at least had a forum where people could complain about things or ask for support, but that’s recently vanished (probably because it was the only place you could readily SEE complaints, and they could easily make it all disappear). I hate being so cynical, but what other reason would there be? They have the resources to provide support to us.

  3. Not being able to contact them
    No other purchase option besides creditcards

    1. What are you looking for, checks?  Bitcoins?

      1. Paying through your operator, paying with your bank, prepaid cards, paypal, anything. In the EU there aren’t a lot of people with creditcards.

  4. I love Google but as an Indie developer it can be hard to get apps to gain traction. A lot if the time it doesnt matter if I’ve made the best app ever, it still won’t sell a single copy. However, two apps I have made that I deemed of poor quality and was ashamed to sell sold in the thousands very quickly.

    Google needs to fix the system in which apps are presented to users.

    1. Would you mind linking to these apps for reference?

      1. Here are two similar apps I created as a test to see if it mattered how much work I put into it. They are apps designed to help you text emoticons in a tutorial kind of fashion.

        This one clearly took a lot of work and is very functional with tons of emoticons and great graphics: 

        And here is another “Emoticon” app I made that is one of the simplest things I could imagine, made it in like thirty minutes: 

        The second “crappy” version has outsold the original by roughly three-fold. There is clearly a problem in the Play Store with how apps are presented to users, I honestly do not know why the second one is outselling the original…

        1. The second app looks better to me, and it’s also much smaller, which people like too. It looks much easier to read.

          1. Really, is it the simplicity of the app that got you?

    2. I gotta agree on the “poor quality” apps part. I’m extremely jealous of someone I know making a decent living from an app that, to be honest, is just crap. Even Gameloft’s “Real Football 2011 HD” is an Editor’s pick for tablets, despite the fact that its an awful game. If you’re playing it, here’s a cheat code for you. Pass the ball to your ‘keeper, and have him take it to the opposing goal, the other players would never tackle you.

      1. That’s just how it is.  I think the perfectionist mentality of most of us devs works against us.  I’m not willing to compromise my work even to make more money, so I’ll just have to deal with the consequences.

      2. This just proves that most developers are not good marketers. What makes someone want to buy something may have nothing to do with what you think are important features. Spend more time researching marketing.

        1. You mean people want to buy a pretty awful game? (I’ve listed reasons I uninstalled it in this piece a few months back)

  5. My biggest complaint is really just the lack of true support for developers. They have a great system and they make the programming side very easy and intuitive, but they don’t communicate with their developers or help them with their problems. They should have a solution for Indian developers’ paid apps, but they don’t. They just don’t care about developers as much as they should.

    My second biggest complaint is that they took away the new apps section. It was extremely, extremely useful (or so I’ve heard) for small, indie developers when it was in the Android Market, but they got rid of it, making it very difficult for new developers to get their apps noticed. I started app development after it was taken away, but there was a thread in their developer forum that consisted of many small developers explaining how its removal basically ruined their app sales. All Google did was tell them to stop complaining, and that it wasn’t all that bad of a problem, when it obviously was.

    1. That’s the key:  they just don’t care.  They know with Android’s popularity, most developers will just suck it up and deal with the situation.

      1. Wrong and right.   The popularity lies in the amount of choices for phones, not Android itself.   Hardcore users think the Android experience is meaningful while the masses are happy with a way to take duck-face photos and post them to Facebook or Twitter.  

        Google needs to have meaningful ads, like Samsung has done with Note and what Apple has done for years with the Iphone and Ipad.   Personalize Android.   I could give two shits about Woz but there is something to be said for the fact that he doesn’t like the UI for Android.  While iOS has its own set of UI issues, Google needs to take a look at revamping.   They are under this mindset that Web 2.0 less-is-more mentality.  Look at google docs.  Minimalist to say the least.   They need to make a person feel warm and fuzzy when using it.  Seriously.   That’s the draw of OSX and to a lesser extent iOS.   

        1. Good points.  *I* don’t like Android’s UI, either.  I prefer Sense because it adds a great deal of polish and necessary functionality.  ICS looks amateurish, IMO.

          I’m afraid minimalism isn’t going away any time soon.  Look at the Windows Metro UI.

          1. I have to disagree with you and the person above on a couple of things. I agree on the marketing part but I’ll get back to that. I totally disagree on the UI part. People don’t buy iPhones because of the UI. They buy it because of the fun commercials. The UI is ugly as sin compared to ICS. So does the Sense UI in my opinion. And look around now. Users actually get upset when new apps don’t look like an ICS app. Android needs to stay right where it is with ICS because it allows us to build very beautiful apps easily. There’s no playing around with faux textures and trying to create plastics, gels, leather and the appearance of 3D. Color and layout are what makes the apps clean and simple. Look at the Pocket (formerly Read it Later) app. They took the ICS design guidelines to their iOS app this time and it looks great.


            On the issue of marketing Android is between a rock and a hard place. I don’t think Google can really do TV ads at will. Remember they sell internet advertising. If their own ad space isn’t good enough to get their message out then why would anyone else want to advertise there. They’d concentrate on TV like Google. So this leaves the carriers and OEMs. The OEMs are only going to focus on what makes their devices unique. The carriers are only going to focus on their services. This leaves no one focusing on the actual features of Android.

            The question is though does it matter. The Comscore numbers will come out in a few days and if the damage control I’ve seen on TechCrunch and BusinessInsider are any indication then Android will show growth and iOS barely anything. Its selling without the ads. I think its the fanboy in us all that really wants to see Android shine in Google sponsored ads. But truth is they may not need them.

  6. How about creating a Support System Google???

      1. Uhu….Google is the laughing stock when it comes to support

        1. I’d say my biggest complaint with them as a developer, is when they yanked one of my apps, gave me NO information as to why.  And the biggest thing is, I even tried to contact them and got NO response?  Really? C’mon Google, you know us developers are the reason your Android is so wildly popular, how about showing us some love?!? :- 

      2. Assuming you can read:

        Phone support is not available for Android Developer issues at this time.”

  7. They come across as a company of techies that never actually sets foot in the outside world and their products all to often prove that.  

    They have a lot of smart people who they allow to do only the “fun” part of innovation without completing the all to important “fit and finish” part.   

    Their products are starting to show their age because of this.

  8. You have to know someone to talk to anyone at Google. 

    1. I’d say my biggest complaint with them as a developer, is when they yanked one of my apps, gave me NO information as to why.  And the biggest thing is, I even tried to contact them and got NO response?  Really? C’mon Google, you know us developers are the reason your Android is so wildly popular, how about showing us some love?!? :-

  9. 1) No easy way to respond to my customers.  When someone posts a 1-star comment about something that they don’t like, I should be able to respond to them!  Sometimes it’s a feature they missed in the menu, or sometimes I’d like to know more about the bug they’re facing.   It’s insane that I have to wait for them to contact me.

    2) No iAds competitor.  Google needs to step up to the plate and find a high-revenue ad solution.  On Android you’re lucky to get a $0.50 eCPM while with iAds many people get 10-50x that.  It’s no wonder most people choose to develop for iPhone.  It’s no longer a wider audience, but it’s still more profitable.

    3) Hard to gain exposure.  Not sure how to fix this, but I’ve seen my best apps flop because there is no way to discover them.  Apple seems to do a better job with this but I’m not sure why or how.

    Overall though, I still much prefer Android for one reason: no approval.  If I find a bug, i can fix it in hours, not weeks.  This means I can release early and get feedback rather than trying to think of every single edge case before releasing.   On iOS, if you miss a bug you could lose your entire userbase before Apple allows you to repair it.

    1. Couldn’t have said it better myself!

    2. Agree on the ads problem. I’m seeing as low as $0.30 eCPM, and planning to shift to InMobi to see if that helps out since they’ve gotten quite a few options regarding the type of ads.

      1. You’re seeing $0.30 eCPM regularly? I’d love to get that, I used to get $0.10 – $0.25 on Mobclix and I was pretty happy (back when my app was in the market, with 50,000 installs). I hear a lot of Android developers getting eCPM fo $0.05 to $0.09, what’s the incentive to do all the hard work!

        1. early days app started out at $0.1 eCPM. I decided to remove refreshes and that brought up the eCPM. I spoke to a friend who’s an AdWords rep, and he said my returns are low-ish.

          (though the reason I chose to do so was I changed the way ads were displayed. It’s a study app, so didn’t want ads coming when a person is studying, and user’s don’t spend much time in a section where ads are shown so no point in refreshes).

    3. I’ve got to question the app exposure problem and whether its a Google problem these days. Are people really finding new apps through the App Store? Or is it through the constant bombardment of “Hey look at this app” you get from the “mainstream” tech media like TechCrunch and personalities like Robert Scoble. They rarely promote Android apps. I believe they also go out of their way to promote iOS only apps. And I have seen them write and article as “iPhone App Lets you XY while you Z” even though the app is available on Android. At best they may mention that part near the end. We all have to keep in mind here that there is a system in place among the tech media to pump up Apple for the sake of the stock they have in the company.  

      That being said Google should be trying to find more ways to let new apps shine. Maybe a one time listing for apps released within a time period that you can’t get back into just with an update? You’ve also gotta remember that this list is going to be flooded so its not like “your” app is going to be the only one shining. Use press releases to all of the Android blogs that showcase apps and use social media to help spread it. There does have to be some marketing on the part of the developer.

      And last but not least we all need to understand that there is a difference between iOS users and Android users. iOS users tend to try anything that comes through the market and like hipster apps. Android users tend to get stuff that they feel can be useful. Don’t go writing a bunch of hipster “pinstagram” type apps thinking Android users are going to swarm to it just because its “beautiful” and has filters. Android utilities seem to sell well. Think about business apps.

      1. In my own experience, i dont download apps based on online reviews, i usually go into the market and just browse till a app catches my eye then ill try it out and if i like it i will keep it if i dont ill get a refund/delete it and move on, also i agree with the spotlighting of new apps, but they should also add a system of organization like depending on the reviews that app has it will be further up the list of newly spotlighted apps within a time period and then once a app has surpassed the time period it gets removed from the spotlight giving way to other apps, because while their are amazing apps in the market, their are also crappy ones.
        Edit: Also if Google wants to really step things up a notch they can add a award system for the top spotlighted app to motivate developers to create better looking and more intuitive apps, cause most the apps that go through the app store look like they were put together in like 30 min or so.

        1. Yes, there is very little organized, intuitive presentation of the apps on google play. It doesn’t seem derivatives such as appbrain have the traffic to generate the rankings on new apps either.

          Somehow google play needs a bottom-to-top winnowing system, with all apps being presented to browsers mixed in with popular apps. There is just so few apps presented to me whenever I browse that there is no way they are doing this now.

          Google needs to invest in app discovery.

    4. I believe they did have some iAds-like stuff. Anyway, if it was exactly like Apple’s, you wouldn’t be able to afford it anyway. Apple asks for like $1 million before they even make you the ad. It’s only for top brands, and it hasn’t been very successful overall for them.

      1. it’s actually 400k. still ridiculous.

    5. 3) Google needs to get a better search tool for apps.  If I am looking for productivity apps, books should not come up in the search.

  10. I’m not too familiar with these type of things.  It might be pricey for someone starting out; however, there should be a way to register your business in another country.  If you believe your app will have a huge following this may be worth it until Google does something about this problem.

  11. Not being able to deal with bogus 1* comments.  I once had someone post a one-star review with the comment “I don’t know what this does”.  Why the hell did he download it then?!

    No support for IDEs other than Eclipse.  I use IntelliJ IDEA Ultimate for development but have to revert to Eclipse for any visual editing.  A stand-alone GUI editor would be really useful.

    The lack of will to support Maven as well as Ant.

    1. I make apps in Eclipse (seamless integration) and games in Unity (works okay, but not great)

    2. Eclipse is a pain in the ass compared to iCode (iOS).

      They should build their own IDE.

  12. My app was removed by bouncer, but Google fixed it. No other problems since.

  13. Vanilla Android is perfect, it should be available on every phone and the manufacturers UI should be an option to the user not a requirement.

    Anyway, how did this start to get off topic??

  14. Removing separate ringer and notification volumes in ICS really pissed me off. What are they thinking?

    1. This seems more like a user complaint than a developer one however….
      1. I wholeheartedly agree with you
      2. I totally understand why they did it…
      2a.  I’m sure they did it for simplicity, there were a LOT of sliders there and to most people it can be overwhelming and that’s the biggest thing people hate about Android.
      I’m not saying I like it this way, I would love nothing more than the settings being an endless labyrinth of settings, which is why I love using Cyanogenmod, they do an awesome job of opening up Android’s power options to us power users who love them so much! :-D

      P.S. I too lament the loss of our beloved notification slider and hope that Cyanogenmod’s team finds a way to hack it back into Android :-)

      1. It’s a developer complaint. The lack of consistency caused me many hours fixing my app to be compatible with both 2.3 and 4.0. And many of my users send me emails wondering what happened and why. I feel like Google should be paying me to be their spokes person. ;-)

    2. The same can be said of me when in 2.2 they changed the ringer selection from volume straight to silent, as opposed to sound, then vibrate, then silent in 2.1. To get vibrate but no ring in 2.2, you have to delve into the settings and check/uncheck a thing or two. Makes no d*mn sense…

  15. They’re review/rating system is totally flawed. I have found so many cases of reviews/ratings not being registered by their system and they have done little or nothing about it. Here’s a forum thread with countless developers and even users complaining about it with no Google response(surprise surprise):!topic/android-market/7cqkNbq7W4c    Like others have said, you cannot reply to users comments/ratings in any way. You have to wait for them to contact you, which is ridiculous. Also, again as others have said, you cannot remove or deal with stupid comments and ratings such as “this app is stupid don’t download it” or plain insult and hate comments. 

    Google need human support contact for developers. The whole “no March payment” issue across Europe this year is a perfect demonstration for this need, as a very large amount of developers were not paid for their app sales and no reason/response/contact etc was made or given for weeks.

    They need to monitor malicious/imitation apps much better too, as they are destroying the ecosystem for users and developers. AndroidPolice do a good job to help deal with this, but Google should be doing this work.

  16. Piss-poor app ranking algorithm… shocking from a company that was founded on relevance ranking.

    1. They know how to rank websites, images, and YouTube videos, but they really haven’t figured out apps or books… 

      1.  I think it’s more a symptom of the left hand not knowing what the right hand is doing… the Android team deciding to write their own ranking algo when that clearly isn’t their specialty. But here’s a secret tip for them: If two or more apps are comparably downloaded and reviewed, the one with 4.5 star average is generally better than the ones with 2 star averages… sheesh.

  17. It seems like most of the staff has never shipped a product outside of part of Android.  They don’t seem to understand the cottage developers who make up the majority.  Instead they cater to enterprise which has been reluctant to jump into the fray.

  18. I’m not a developer but i’m surprised so many are freaked out about the comment system.  As a consumer I look at the reviews and if a review says, “this sucks i don’t get it’s stupid” I ignore that comment and I think most consumers would.  If there is not a valid complaint in there than most won’t pay attention to it.  If you are worried about your overall reviews and are gettng enough 1 star complaints like that then you are doing something wrong.  Maybe your directions aren’t clear enough or you haven’t put in enough information.  Sure, not all consumers are bright and some are ridiculous, but everytime I buy an app i ignore the reviews that give me no information.  I think the reviews should be the least of the concerns.

    1. …and if you think the review system on play is flawed then you really must hate the train wreck that is Amazon’s review situation!!!

      1. Amazon is just awful.  The sense of entitlement that everyone who owns a kindle fire displays is horrendous.  Don’t even get me started on anything root related in their appstore either.  A train wreck is putting it mildly. 


        1. wow, that dude is such an idiot, did he forget what he was even rating?!? :-P

          1.  Sometimes when I want to lose faith in humanity I browse the 1 star reviews on the Amazon Appstore, or look at popular apps in the Play Store.  Luckily the larger population of Play Store users seems to drown out those lacking common sense so the overall rating isnt skewed like you see with Amazon.

            Evidence #2:

          2. LMAO!  Those are all great.  Root is tricky and in all honesty there should be an idiot proof way for Google to not allow apps that need root to be downloaded on unrooted phones, kinda like their “this app is not compatible with your device” message.  It really does remind me of the movie “Idiocracy”.  In some ways I look forward to the future and in other ways i don’t, lol.

    2. Same here, not a dev but a consumer. I have an iPod touch and I never listen to any reviews that don’t list what the complaint is. Mainly, I look at the star average to see if it’s a bad app or not, and if it is, I check the reviews to see if it is legit or not.

      P.S. The most hilarious thing ever on the App Store is when there is an app that makes it to #10 on the top 25 and all it does is make “Android style” trace-dot security and all the idiots pay 5 bucks for it. (Literaly all it does is make a wall paper to put on the lock screen so people think it is the pattern unlock and it is impossible to get in even though the slide to unlock is beneath it.) Then, I’m the coments they scream for there money back because they didn’t read the description before they bought it. It is hilarious. After I saw this happen, I realized why everyone on tech blogs calls iPhone users iSheep. :)

  19. I’d say my biggest complaint with them as a developer, is when they yanked one of my apps, gave me NO information as to why.  And the biggest thing is, I even tried to contact them and got NO response?  Really? C’mon Google, you know us developers are the reason your Android is so wildly popular, how about showing us some love?!? :-

    1. paste your shit a couple more times maybe some1 will care!

  20. Dalvik/eclipse. Would love to see Google create a visual ide like Microsoft does. Mono for Android is good but it’s price is just so high.

  21. I think an “Indie Top 100 New Apps” section of the Play Store that randomly rotates every week would go a long way. They could even break it into app types.
    I get so frustrated. I stupidly didn’t protect myself appropriately and had someone steal my app and redo it for the Apple Store. They sold thousands. My free original on Android has less than 1000 downloads.
    It’s bull

  22. The whole setup. Me I love using Eclipse. But learning it was easy for the fact I use it for linux. Users and there stupidity not all users but them ones that use stars and comment section to knock you app. Thinking your like Facebook have a team of developers. Come sad thing most don’t even shoot me the error report. Wait til it loads and press send. I can fix it asap and issue out a fix.

  23. I would say Eclipse + ADT are improving but they’re still buggy and overall far cry comparing to VS.  I love the platform and the possibilities, much bigger than on WP platform, however developer tools are also very important.
    Another thing is variety of versions and customization overkill from manufacturers. I particularly despise what HTC does – screwing too much with the system, putting their poorly modified libraries as public and thus giving pain to developers (ie their version of gson deployed on certain devices is incompatible with google gson and at the same made public without changing the package, which forces developers using gson to either obfuscating or repackaging)

  24. Made a blog post about our biggest complains a few weeks ago – it’s Google Play search results.  Current searches on Google Play simply do not display relevant results.

  25. Google Checkout / Wallet. I constantly have orders cancelled because they were unable to charge a credit card or something else went wrong. I constantly see users trying to buy an app over and over. There is something very wrong with their system. In-app purchases sometimes don’t go through.
    You know how many issues I’ve had on Amazon? Zero. Not a one. They know how to bill customers and take care of issues. The fact that it’s not available to many users around the world isn’t helping either.

  26. The complaint is really odd…

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