Google launched a new version of the Play Store on the web, and overall it’s a great improvement that is functional, aesthetically pleasing, and consistent with Google’s other recent UI changes. The new design emphasizes cards and sidebar navigation, although it’s missing one thing: the ability to view installed apps per device.
If you remember, the old version of the Play Store allowed you to view a list of every app you had every installed, and this ability remains in the new version. However, the old version also let you sort these apps by device, so you could quickly filter them based on what’s currently installed on your phone and tablet, for example. In the new Play Store, this functionality is nowhere to be found.
Unfortunately, this seems to be a new trend at Google: rather than thoroughly testing new ideas with existing users, Google has formed a terrible habit of forcing radical new designs on everyone all at once, oftentimes stripping away previous functionality, with a promise that the functionality will return “soon,” or it will be revised to be even better. For example:
- Google radically redesigned Google Talk, and forced the change on everyone who used that app on Android devices through an automatic Play Store update. In the process, Google also updated its Chrome extension, Gmail, and Google+ Messenger. (The latter is still available for Android, but will be going away soon.) The new Google Hangouts took away the ability to quickly and easily see who is online, and Google’s response was that people don’t really need that functionality. The new Google Hangouts also completely broke Gmail calling, and it took Google almost two whole months to incorporate that in the new Hangouts.
- Google radically redesigned Google Maps, and took away Latitude. This wouldn’t have necessarily been all bad, but as it turns out, Google+ Locations – which is supposed to replace Latitude – doesn’t work correctly for a lot of people. Many families have come to depend on this service, with spouses keeping tabs on children and each other.
- Google also took away the ability to easily cache a map for offline viewing, which is important for users who might travel to places without good cell service. Google says that it’s going to bring this back soon as a menu option, but as of now, it’s still not on my device.
- Google Reader. I don’t think I need to elaborate on that one.
- Finally, we have a prettier Play Store on the web – but another function that I use quite frequently is gone.
I’ve been a huge fan of Google for a while, and I use a lot of Google services. But this is starting to get ridiculous – even for me. I understand that Google is trying to focus more of its energies on Google+. I understand that Google’s ultimate goal is to serve us all ads and make money. I understand Google’s position about putting more time into fewer key products. But there’s also something to be said about putting all of your eggs in one basket.
Furthermore, if Google can afford Project Loon, and Google Fiber, and Project Glass, surely it can afford to wait a bit longer to properly beta test its products before releasing them to the general public. That’s what it used to do – remember how long Gmail was in beta?
Now, it just feels like everything is rushed. Google is trying to release updates too quickly with a sincere but often misguided intention to fix the bugs later. And unfortunately, as a result, its services are starting to suffer.
What do you think?