The program was initially launched shortly after Google I/O in partnership with a specific, hand-picked batch of developers. But now, Google says any developer will be able to apply for a place on stage.
Ellie Powers, the lead product manager for Google Play, told Greenbot that when it comes to evaluating developer interest, the focus will be on a diversity of application types and good development principles.
“What we’re looking for is apps that are very high quality, but this is also balanced with the fact they’re pre-released and won’t be polished,” she said. “We want them to be interesting concepts that others might find also interesting. It’s also about balancing out the collection. The idea is to turn over the featured apps regularly so there’s a constant, fresh supply of content.”
The section features unreleased apps and games, with a caveat about them being potentially unstable. However if you’re the type who sideloads APKs and always wants what’s new, this probably won’t deter you.
According to Powers, the Early Access section has seen one million downloads, all coming from a group of 29 launch partners.
Powers says the popularity spurned the team to push for more devs to participate, as they’ll get valuable data and feedback. For Android users hungry for the next big thing, it’s another way to feast on fresh apps.
“I think we want to make sure those users come back and there’s always something exciting for them to try out,” she said. “And for developers it gives them feedback, and an important piece to think about is this allows them to get exposure to a much wider range of users.”
It should be a little while before these new apps pop up, but you can check out the Early Access section now to see what’s there you may have missed.
The impact on you: The end result will be more titles to play with in Google’s not-quite-ready showcase. The main target behind the move is to help the Play Store be more developer friendly as this will allow devs to get feedback and identify bugs from their apps before a more general release. Stable, quality apps are the ones that are easier to monetize and gain wider traction among Android users.