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Google, whose Android phones are tipped to overtake Apple before the end of the year, has given their Android Market store a face lift in an attempt to close the gap on Apple.

Google whose Android phones are tipped to overtake Apple before the end of the year has given their Android Market store a face lift in an attempt to close the gap on Apple.

The update has seen the introduction of a carousel of applications on the home screen while the actual apps are more streamlined with information delivered on a single page along with  content ratings to warn parents of sensitive content. The gaming se3ction has also been expanded.

Developers can now target specific screen resolutions and even pixel densities to make sure that only users capable of running an app properly will see it. They can also target OpenGL texture compression formats to support only those phones that can handle a certain minimum texture quality. The limit on APK installers is being bumped up to 50MB to allow for more of the texture detail itself.

The updates apply to any Android phone using 1.6 or higher, which should cover nearly every Android user.

Electronista said that all of the steps appear aimed to close gaps with the iOS App Store, which has so far had a relative edge through much heavier promotion of apps and a heavy focus on gaming that divides it into sub-genres. Android Market until lately promoted almost solely based on the date of an app’s arrival and made it difficult to learn full details of an app before buying. Game developers have also noted that they often have wildly varying feature and performance expectations between devices, forcing them to either target a broad audience or issue their own warnings about what phones won’t work. Some games have had to reduce their art assets to fit the earlier cap.

Google’s store is the second largest, at over 100,000 apps, but is still well behind the more than 300,000 of Apple. The search firm is likely to be expanding Android Market’s reach not just to sustain the platform’s sustained rapid growth but to prepare the way for the first Android 3.0 tablets.

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