The Play Store, despite its massive selection of apps, isn’t always perfect. There are a few alternative ways of browsing the Play Store out there that can make it easier to find truly great apps.
While some app stores entirely replace the Google Play Store, these rely on the Play Store for downloading. That way, you’re left with all of Google’s oversight and popularity but can still benefit from the improved features of these stores. Other Android app stores can’t even come close to having the number of apps that the Play Store has.
AppBrain’s main advantage is having a fresh way of browsing apps. There are many different categories, ranging from Books & Reference to Racing. From there, you also have a wide range of sorting options for things like popular apps, apps popular just today, or apps popular within a certain demographic.
There is also the option of making your apps public so that other people can see what apps you use and you can browse what other people use. This function is intended to make sharing apps easy if you have friends with AppBrain. With enough friends using the app, this could actually be a surprisingly useful feature.
The interface is pleasant with all of your options lining the top, including search, recent categories you’ve searched, and options. There is a dark theme and a light theme for a bit of personalization, and a banner ad that runs along the bottom of all the pages.
AppBrain also works as an application manager, allowing you to uninstall apps with ease, keep everything up to date, and share your app collection with others. For the social aspect, there are also options for making apps private or hiding them from others completely; you know, if you don’t want your friends to know that you play Where’s My Water all day.
The makers of AppBrain also have a partner app called the AppBrain Ad Detector which can check if any pesky apps are giving you push notifications or otherwise exhibiting possibility malicious or annoying traits.
You can download AppBrain from the Google Play Store to get started.
Best Apps Market
The Best Apps Market, or BAM for short, is another Play Store alternative that will redirect you to the Play Store for downloads, and it also works as an application manager. Its application manager tells you which apps you haven’t used in a long time so that you can uninstall them if necessary.
If you choose to go with BAM, it’s probably because of the effort that they put in to hand-pick the best apps and review them. The Top Apps and Top Games sections are both hand-selected by BAM staff, and many apps have a rating from BAM’s team. This means that you not only get the developer’s spiel about the app or random users’ sometimes inaccurate reviews, but also an unbiased examination from someone with an eye for apps.
The interface is certainly different from the Play Store or AppBrain, but I think it is a refreshing take. A progress bar sits at the bottom and you can tap it to see what you should do next to make full use of the app, or remove it via the Settings menu. The first few steps show you how to find and download an app and then add widgets to your homescreen.
There is also a small user icon in the bottom right of the progress bar that keeps track of your favorite apps, wish list, and recommended apps. It makes it easy to add an app to your wish list and refer back to it later to see if it’s worth purchasing. Plus, their recommendations do a pretty good job of offering up worthy alternatives and add-ons to the apps you already use.
One feature I particularly like is the Related Lists section at the bottom of any app page. It gives you options for other categories to find similar apps, and it is much more specific and helpful than the Play Store. For instance, under Snapdragon Glance, there is a list for personalization apps and list just for lock screen replacement apps. This makes finding lock screen replacement apps a lot easier than it would otherwise be.
You can grab the Best Apps Market from the Google Play Store.
From the same makers of the Best Apps Market is a new, innovative way of finding apps called Fetch. The app is entirely centered around recommendations for apps that you might like. The more apps you download or sections you “like”, the better the app will get at recommending things for you.
Specific categories make finding certain genres of games, like RPGs or MMOs, incredibly simple. The interface really is gorgeous and modern, with large images and quick loading times. It’s a breeze to work your way through the app with the labels that run along the top that easily allow you to narrow your search for apps that are more entertaining, expressive, social, or something else entirely.
The app page has a Fetch rating, similar to how BAM has ratings from their staff, and the apps are also sorted by traits to make them easier to find. There are reviews, a description, and a button for finding similar apps, all splashed on a simple white background with gray text and a few bright colors.
Along the top of the app is a heart icon for liking whatever category or app you are currently on. On the homepage, there is also what looks like a vibrating phone icon, and it allows you to do a random app search to see what kind of stuff Fetch can find for you.
Fetch is available on the.
Tablified Market HD
This one goes out for all the Android tablet owners who are saddened by the relatively small amount of tablet-optimized apps in the Play Store. While Tablified Market HD can’t create tablet apps out of thin air, it makes it much easier to find the ones already available in the Play Store.
The interface is similar to the Play Store in many ways. There’s a similar design philosophy here with the bright blue bar along the top and white cards over a grey background. It is clean and easy to navigate. Four main tabs stretch across the top: Tablet Spotlight, Apps, Games, and What’s Hot. Clicking on one of these tabs changes the options along the left side to further categorize what you’re looking for.
This free app is powered by ads that run in a banner along the bottom, but the Pro version can be purchased for $3.99 in-app. It also allows you to sort by free or paid, change the font size, favorite apps, and use advanced search options.
Each app page gives the same information you would find on the Play Store, including the description, what’s new in the most recent updated, ratings and reviews, and related apps if you scroll down further. All in all, it stays relatively close to what you would experience using the Play Store, but it makes the experience of finding tablet-optimized apps a million times easier.
You can grab Tablified Market HD from the Play Store.
There are some great Android apps out there, but these stores should help you find them a bit more easily. And while you’re improving you device, make sure to brush up on your lock screen’s security so random people don’t get to use your well-picked apps without your permission.
What do you think of these alternative ways of browsing the Google Play Store? Enough to lure you away from browsing Google’s offering, or do you have another favorite Android app store? Let us know in the comments.
Image credit: Flickr/Family O’Abé’s
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