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App Surgeries Publicly Review Android Apps

If you're an application developer for Android with a thick skin, you may be able to get your app reviewed publicly by a Google employee.

Self-described "Android Developer Advocate" Reto Meier has started a series of what he calls "Android App Surgeries", in which he publicly critiques apps currently available in the Android Market. Developers first submit their app for consideration to be reviewed. Users then vote on which of the apps will be chosen for the review; the top vote-getter gets the nod.

Once chosen, Meier gives the app a thorough once-over, commenting on everything from user experience, to how well it takes advantage of existing Android features, to stability and usability concerns. "The goal is to highlight Android best practices for you guys to use in your own apps -- more of a code review than a book review," writes Meier in explaining his reviewing methodology.

As of this writing, four apps had been reviewed, including one of the author's own apps for tracking earthquakes. Meier obviously spends a lot of time going over the applications, and gives plenty of suggestions for improvement. The tone is consistently helpful instead of harsh; the exception is the review of his own app. He says:

"There's no internationalization support, which isn't great, what's worse is that I've gotten lazy with externalizing the strings. About half are defined in XML, the rest are string literals. There's no excuse for that."

The reviews are also generating healthy debate from the developer community. The first review, for example, is for an app called "MySettings." Meier comments on the inclusion of an "Exit" button to kill the app, and says it's not necessary because the "Back" button does the same thing. A lively thread developed on the use of the Exit button.

Meier speaks in general design and usability principles, making the reviews valuable for any Android developer, whether or not their particular app is reviewed.

About the Author

Keith Ward is the editor in chief of Virtualization & Cloud Review. Follow him on Twitter @VirtReviewKeith.

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