Seventh in a Series
This was by far the most challenging battle in this series. In face it is split into 2 sections. Each tablet has a good store for apps. Windows may have fewer apps but it still has plenty of good apps. Ultimately it comes down to which Store helps you find the apps you want. Note: I realize there some popular apps that are not on Windows 8 but while important, there are alternatives for most “missing” apps.
Store Home Page
The homepage for the Windows Store has a flipping image featured section (similar in style to some webpages) and below that some collections. Moving to the right, you may have a list of apps for your device manufacturer and sections for chart listings. Helpfully you can see pricing, rating and whether the app is installed already.
Across the top you have a perpetually visible quick links bar to get to other sections of the Store. Previously this was hidden and only showed with a swipe (or mouse-click) but many couldn’t find it that way. Search as well is not “hidden” which defeats the point of the charms (admittedly the charms were a nice idea in theory but for many are difficult to discover).
The initial view of the Play Store is mainly a jumping off point since you not only get access to apps but also music, movies and books. It leaves little room for providing interest to visit specific sections. I really think it should be separate apps as I don’t open the Play Store for anything but apps, but perhaps I’m in the minority here.
I just think the view is too limiting. Yes you can swipe up for more apps, but I feel I need many taps to get where I want in it. The main page is divided into lists (some mimic collections in the Windows Store) which do the job well to find content you might be interested in. Search is none too far away in the corner as well. Interestingly Google provides a hidden menu when you swipe in from the left. Microsoft has started to make hidden menus visible because of discover-ability, but seems Google is doing the reverse.
The Collections are a handy way to have apps grouped and make discovering new apps easier. On the home page, you get square icons, but in the collections and category sections of the Store you get rectangular icons. At first this may seem odd, but the rectangles provide a short description about the game/app as you drill down into a list. I’m not sure how the Collections are created, but it would be nice to have a way to create your own – to even share them. (there’s an app for that called App Social on Windows Phone – the Windows 8 version doesn’t seem to work right).
Just a few specific lists have a list of wide icons, but most of the icons are square with pricing info and whether installed or not. I know they are trying to highlight these apps, but they don’t seem as useful overall compared to Collections in Windows.
Depending on how many apps you have downloaded, the My apps list can take quite a while to show up. The initial view is for apps you have download before but are not currently installed. I wish you had the option to choose which view before you got to this view because no matter what you have to wait for it to find all your apps you DON’T have installed before choosing the view you want and waiting again for the apps list to populate. Also strange the “apps installed on your pc” option shows apps that AREN’T installed, puzzling.
The option to see apps installed on another device you own can be helpful since you may want an app installed but can’t remember the name of app. You can sort it by date installed or by name. The Windows Store does provide recently updated information here but not the ability to update apps (if you choose not to auto-update) like Android does. Both stores do allow multiple apps to be installed from here at once.
The My apps view is nicely divided between a scrolling list on the left and an app view on the right. If you have updates to be done they will be slowed first and most recently updated apps, then everything else. You can see which apps are installed and install ones that aren’t (were uninstalled or previously installed on another device with your login) or remove the app or even open the app. Additionally provides an option to turn off automatic updating by app and what information the app requires from you, like your location or storage.
Part two of the App Store battle will compare the app view and search and provide a verdict.
Next up: Store part 2
Devices used in comparison
Asus Vivotab Smart: Windows 8.1 Update 1, 10.1” screen 1366×768, microsd slot, micro hdmi, micro USB, 2mp front camera, 8mp rear camera w/flash, 64GB storage, 2GB RAM, NFC, 2in1 audio jack.
Nexus 7 (original): Android KitKat 4.4.2, 7” screen 1280×800, micro USB, 1.2 mp front camera, 8GB storage, 1GB RAM, NFC, headphone jack