Saturday, May 21, 2011

Android Usability Glitch: Suppressing Incompatible Market Apps

The Android Market has functionality to allow apps that are incompatible with the device in question to be suppressed. In principle, that is very good functionality--don't let me install an app that at best won't work, and at worst will mess up, my phone. However, the way this is implemented creates a usability flaw. You search for something you know is in the market and don't find it. You keep searching, trying different terms and spellings, and are completely mystified.

The solution would be to display the incompatible apps, but flag them visually as incompatible. This would both cure the usability flaw, and provide the bonus benefit of helping the user develop their mental model of how things work.

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