Google keeps experimenting with different UIs for their app suite, resulting in some interesting variations in the Google Play Store UI. Some interfaces stick, many don’t, but Google keeps toying around to see what works for user engagement.
The latest in these series of UI changes is how search results are displayed. Previously, searching for an app would bring out a list of results in equally sized list cards. With the new updated UI, the most likely search result is displayed first in a large card with compact information on the average star rating, number of ratings, approximate number of downloads and other icons indicating content rating and ‘Top Developer” status. You also get the app’s video preview as well as screenshots, all accessible from within the large card in the search results.
The new UI
Side scrolling lists follow the main search result in the form of “You Might Also Like” and “Similar Apps”. The rest of the search results follow along after that in their simpler card format.
This new search UI only works when you have typed out the full name of the app and not clicked on the prompted app page. Clicking on the prompted app during instant search will skip the search results, naturally, and take you directly to the app’s full page. Also, this new UI does not show up if you have not typed out the name of the app completely or correctly.
To experience this, you’ll first need to search for any particular application. Once you see the search results, just tap on the one you searched for and you will be greeted with a big app card. You can directly hit install from the same to begin downloading the app. But if you want to know more then you’ll need to scroll upwards on this card. This will give you access to the familiar space where info regarding an app is displayed.
Now, swiping down on the card again shrinks it back in place alongside other big cards in search results. You can swipe left and right to discover similar or relevant apps based on your search query. This is an intuitive take towards an improvement in discovery and user experience.
The new search UI does look helpful, but one can question its usability. If you know which app you are looking for and are familiar with its name and icon, you are more likely to click on the prompted instant search result and directly land onto the app main page. Search is more useful when you do not know what you are looking for, but the new updated UI does not make an appearance in such a scenario.