Mobile app stores are naturally designed for use on mobile devices, but there will always come a time when one will want or even need to browse the catalog on a desktop or laptop computer. Unlike the iOS App Store, the Google Play Store has always been “web friendly”, allowing people to search for what Google has to offer and even install Android apps from a web browser. However, the web-based Google Play Store hasn’t exactly caught up with the rest of the company’s design changes. It’s finally coming very soon, but it’s a change that might not be right for everyone.
It’s been years since Google actually changed the look of the Play Store on a web browser, the latest being the introduction of the Material Design language. On the other hand, the Android application of the Google Play Store has undergone some major changes since then, leaving a visual and behavioral inconsistency between the two windows. Soon, however, that won’t be the case, and the web experience will actually follow the mobile app, perhaps to the dismay of some people.
Admittedly, the online store was not exactly ideal in some cases. Some found the side navigation panel a bit confusing, while the overall layout didn’t scale down well when viewing the store in a narrow browser window. Overall the website was functional but not exactly the smoothest experience and at times was even too slow for comfort.
Google seems to be preparing to finally say goodbye to the old web-based Play Store, at least based on the information Android Police has been able to gather. The design and flow of the new website reflects what you would find on the app version, which is a point of consistency. Gone is the navigation panel, for example, and most of the settings and options that were previously there are now in a drop-down menu from the user’s profile picture in the upper right corner.
Despite the name, Google Play Store isn’t just a place for apps or games, and the new design still has sections for other digital content like books and videos. In fact, the sections are also divided into several subsections, the most useful being the device categories under the main title Applications. The app and content search behaves similarly to the mobile app, presenting a direct link to an autocomplete app if it is exactly what you typed.
Not everyone will appreciate the new design, especially since it sometimes uses a lot of white space, probably in keeping with the new Material Design. It would, however, be faster, which all users will appreciate. Now it’s up to Google to roll it out to everyone, and it might actually take a little while if it just does A / B testing at this point.