South Africa Gets Paid Applications in the Android Market

For a while now, all signs pointed to Google gearing up to finally give us South Africans access to paid applications in the Android Market. Tweets that appeared with vague time lines were quickly deleted. Paid applications started appearing in search results of the Web version of the Market, with prices in Rands, but no way to actually buy them. Then, on the 11th of May, sometime during day two of Google I/O 2011, it was nonchalantly announced that an additional 99 countries would be getting access to paid applications in the Android Market. South Africa appeared in that list, so over at ZADroid we checked, double checked – and confirmed that Google had indeed thrown the switch.
Apart from extending access to paid applications, Google has upgraded both the Web interface and the Mobile client for the Android Market, both looks- and functionality-wise, drastically improving application discovery (which was a major shortcoming of the Market), by adding the following:

  • New top app charts ““ We‘ve revamped our top app charts to be fresher and country-specific, so you get the most current, relevant results. We‘ve also added top new free, top new paid, and top grossing lists, all right on the Android Market home page.
  • Editors‘ Choice ““ These are some of the very best apps available for Android, as chosen by the Android Market staff. They span everything from games to productivity and beyond.
  • Top Developers ““ We‘re also recognizing those developers creating the highest quality, most popular, and most notable apps available on Android Market. They‘ll get a special icon on our Android Market website, appearing wherever the developer name is shown, starting today for an initial set of over 150 developers.
  • Better related apps ““ On the left side of an app page, you‘ll now see two groups of related apps: apps frequently browsed by people who viewed this app, and apps that people tend to install alongside this app. We‘ll also show you related apps once you decide to install an app.
  • Trending apps ““ Finally, we‘ve added a new section to the Android Market homepage showing trending apps ““ those apps that are quickly growing in daily installs. Look here to stay ahead of the curve and find new apps as they get hot

If you’re not seeing paid applications yet (and you should be), you can try clearing your Market application’s cache and user data by going to Settings > Applications > Manage Applications, finding Market in the list, and tapping both Clear data and Clear cache.
Just be aware that you may not see the same applications that you did if you were using MarketEnabler in the past. This isn’t a bug. Some applications may be hidden, as developers may put restrictions on where they want to make their application available. On that note, even though end users are now seeing paid applications, South African developers still can’t peddle their wares in the Market, as Google’s supported countries on the Merchant List is still very limited. Let’s hope this changes very soon.
Barring that, finally having access to paid applications is awesome, and I predict that this will give Android a major boost in South Africa.