Google is always improving its Play Store app listing, and the new app download counts are nothing short of another good effort.
Google Play Store now shows app download counts
The new app download counts appear listings beside the star icon on the right. The star in the app listing shows users the overall rating of an app. Beside that now comes the download count, which shows users how many people have installed an app on their Android phones.
There are three major count ratings: "K+" for thousands, "M+" for millions, and "B+" for billions. It goes without saying that apps with a "B+" download count will attract far more attention and new usage than apps with just a "K+" rating. And yet, apps that don't have at least a few thousand downloads will not see any rating beside them.
Users can now find an app's download count before installing an app instead of waiting to see it when clicking on one. The new app download count is available on Android, but only for new app downloads (not apps already downloaded). The Play Store on the web remains the same, however. Users will have to visit the Play Store on their Android devices to see the new update in action.
The purpose of the new app download counts
What is the purpose behind Google's new download count in the Play Store? Google is adding the new download count to guide Play Store users to trustworthy apps.
Every few months, a new Android security report highlights a harmful app in the Play Store. By the time of the app's discovery, it is present on hundreds of thousands of devices. And each time a report on a malware-ridden Android app surfaces, Google responds by removing the app from the Play Store.
If Google could highlight potentially bad apps for users up-front before they download them, the outcome would be better.
Apps with small downloads don't indicate that an app is untrustworthy. Small download numbers could show the app is new and isn't finding enough users at the moment.
That's the downside to the new app count: it may just discourage users from exploring new apps that could be excellent in their own right.
Additionally, the new Play Store app download counts continue the notion that "the best" apps are those that large numbers use. There may be apps that don't have a large user base but perform well, don't have malware, and prove rather useful to some. Not every app is useful to every Android user.
This new count, however, reinforces the notion of popularity in numbers. And, while that is useful for Google's profits and Play Store reputation, the truth is that every app, like every human life, matters, whether it proves profitable for Google and its developer(s) or not.