Android Market is finally getting a robust desktop presence. But we don’t have to Google to thank for it — it’s coming from doubleTwist, the syncing software that allows you to sync your media with Android phones (it also supports myriad other devices). The new feature is launching today with the latest update of doubleTwist for Mac, and will be included with the Windows version soon. doubleTwist is also offering a web version of its Android Market directory, which you can access at http://apps.doubletwist.com.
I’ve made no secret of my dislike for the current version of Google’s official web presence for Android Market — it offers a sampling of Android’s top apps, but it’s ugly and doesn’t offer a full listing of what’s available (it doesn’t even offer a search function). There are some third-party web directories, like AndroidLib, but these don’t offer the slick feel you get from a desktop application. doubleTwist comes closer than either of these options to matching the iTunes browsing experience, but it still isn’t perfect.
The Android Market integration looks quite nice. Clicking the menu item in the left sidebar brings up a list of the top featured, paid, and free applications on Android Market. And, unlike Google’s official Market site, you can actually search using doubleTwist’s version. Clicking on an app will bring up its description, screen shots, and reviews — it looks a lot like the iTunes App Store interface, which isn’t a bad thing.
However, doubleTwist’s Market integration comes with a couple of issues. First, it doesn’t include any application categories, like ‘Games’ or ‘Communication’ (though this seems like it would be a fairly minor addition). The other issue is more problematic: you can’t actually use doubleTwist to download and sync applications to your Android device. Instead, each entry on the Market features a QR code that you have to scan from your phone to bring up the appropriate item in Android Market.
doubleTwist co-founder Monique Farantzos says that the company plans to offer Over The Air downloads this summer (which would let you send apps to your device without having to bother with this QR code nonsense), and that the company has also approached Google about a way to make the experience more integrated and seamless. Still, even without OTA downloads, the Market integration looks slick.