Google’s online store makes it easy to find and buy the apps you need. Here's everything you need to know about the Android Market.

Despite its excellent operating system, your Google Android phone is only as useful as the apps installed on it. Whether you’re looking to play games, manage media or find new ways to organise your life, apps are the tools that can make it happen.

Android’s official app store is the Android Market. While the open nature of Google’s platform allows you to download apps from anywhere (several other app download sites exist), the Android Market is the largest collection and offers a secure way to pay through Google Checkout.

See also:  Android apps reviews

The Android Market

To access the Market on your phone or Google Android Tablet, tap the Market shortcut on the home screen. Once it loads, you’ll see a page showcasing the latest featured apps. At the top of the screen is a series of tabs labelled Apps, Games, and possibly another option ­specific to your network.

Tapping the Apps tab brings up a set of categories to browse. Within each you’ll see a list of the most popular programs sorted by whether they’re free or paid-for. You can also tap the search icon - the magnifying glass at the top right - to find any application by name or keyword. To learn more about a particular app, tap it to load a description and screenshots provided by the developer, along with ratings and comments from users.

You can’t view the Android Market in a web browser, so it’s only accessible on an Android device. If you come across a useful app on the developer’s website rather than the Market, on the other hand, the website may provide a URL that you can tap (when using an Android device), or a QR code you can scan, to jump to that app’s entry in the Android Market.

Downloading an App

When you decide you want an app, touch the Install button at the bottom of its page in the Market. The vast majority of apps in the Market are perfectly safe. Just be sure you’ve looked over an app’s ratings and comments to get an idea of its reputation, then use your judgement.

With free apps, the download will begin as soon as you tap OK. With paid apps, you’ll first be taken to a Google Checkout screen to enter your credit card information. You’ll have to input your payment details only once; they’ll be securely stored for future transactions. A message will pop up in your notification panel once an app has finished installing.

See also: How to download and install apps on an Android device

Updating and uninstalling

Many apps receive regular updates from their developers. The Android Market will notify you by placing a Market icon with an ‘Updates available’ message in your notification panel. Follow the prompts to download and install the update for free.

To manually check for updates, press the Menu key while in the Market, then select Downloads. Any app that’s been updated appears at the top with a label.

If you want to uninstall an app, go to the Market and access the Downloads menu. Touch any app in the list and you’ll get an option to uninstall it. The Android Market will refund your money on any paid app you uninstall within 24 hours, provided you haven’t had it before.

Your Android device has its own built-in app manager, too. Tap the Menu key while on your home screen, then select Settings, Applications, Manage applications. You’ll find a list of all the programs installed on your device. ­Tapping on any app lets you see detailed information about its system resource usage and will also give you the option to uninstall it.

See all: Google Android tutorials