Is Google’s Play Store auto correct unfair to small developers?

autoremote fail - for some reason we don't have an alt tag here

Google is very good at thinking it knows best. You won’t believe the trouble I had to go through to make all parts of my Google experience stay in the English language, as simply setting it to that language is apparently not enough when your IP is Norwegian. It’s a convenience to some, and close to discrimination. Another issue I’ve noticed is the auto correct feature in Google Play. Designed to help you find what you’re looking for when you type it in wrong, it’s a useful service in theory, up until the point where it sends you away from the app you were looking for because it isn’t popular enough.

The image example at the top is from yesterday’s article about AutoRemote. When I typed AutoRemote into Google Play, I was asked if I meant “auto remote” instead, despite the fact that it had a direct match for the word “autoremote.” If you click the suggested correction, the app is however nowhere to be found! Instead, more generic remote apps with many more downloads show up, such as Unified Remote and Teamviewer.

This is a big problem if you ask me, because not everyone is that comfortable with finding software in Google Play. There are so many apps with similar names, and many apps are being spread via word of mouth. If Google Play tells people that they spelled the name wrong and then offers to correct it for them, there’s an excellent chance that the person will be sent away from a list that contains the app he/she is looking for to a list that does not. It has happened to me many times, and it’s especially an issue with apps that have generic names that e.g. contain words like “timer” or “alarm.”

This is mostly an issue with new and/or unknown apps that the Play Store hasn’t become “aware of” properly yet, but that doesn’t change the fact that this is a problem. Some of the most useful apps I have on my device are small apps with only a few hundred or a few thousand downloads, the kind of apps that Google’s autocorrect would happily direct me away from if given the chance. The app discovery features in Google Play are already rather bad compare to what they could be, and it doesn’t exactly help new or small apps to get to the customers when the search field wants to correct your already correct search term into something incorrect.

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Andreas Ødegård

Andreas Ødegård is more interested in aftermarket (and user created) software and hardware than chasing the latest gadgets. His day job as a teacher keeps him interested in education tech and takes up most of his time.

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