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Okay, so basically the Google Play store search is only for typing in the exact name of the app you already know and want to install.

Every time I look for an app with certain functionality, I'm having great problems in finding it. Usually the results contain tons of spam applications and very few of useful ones, or ones actually fitting the search keywords I used. Sometimes I find the apps I was looking for while browsing the store (hundreds of pages...) or digging through "top xx apps for yy" sites that usually come as a result of a regular google search.

My question is - are there any alternatives? How do I search for Android apps that do what I want them to do without digging through hundreds of pages of crappy, unrelated apps at Google Play or reading lists of hundreds of apps on silly web pages whose sole purpose is advertisement? I've read that there once was something called Chomp, but it seems like it doesn't exist any more (not sure, I think Apple bought it).

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    And, have you tried using full-fledged Google Search? site:play.google.com search terms should be helpful, even on your device.
    – ale
    Commented Jan 25, 2013 at 16:44

4 Answers 4

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Try combined search words to narrow down the result list. If you e.g. look for an alarm reminder, "alarm reminder" gives you 1.000+ results -- while "alarm-reminder" (note the "minus" replacing the space) shrinks it to 48, relating to both terms (and not just either one of them).

Sometimes also the rules from Google's main search engine apply here (I could not yet figure out when they do and when they don't). So "alarm +reminder" should list only apps whose name/description contains both terms -- while "alarm -reminder" should list only those containing "alarm" but not "reminder". As said, this works sometimes, while the first rule mentioned seems to work always.

I just tested it, and surprisingly even some more advanced keywords work: "clock +intitle:alarm" really lists only apps having "alarm" in their name (and "clock" in their name or description; though this I did not verify completely). I suspect the playstore search is just a "customized Google search" -- so you might play with other "tipps and tricks" from its "big brother".

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  • If I remember correctly (and assuming they haven't been patched out), there should be search operators for the developer name as well as star rating.
    – Arctiic
    Commented Sep 30, 2022 at 10:32
  • Quotes help to force the Play Store to do a keyword search as I show here, however doing a comprehensive specific search may require quite long queries. See my answer about App Finder below for an alternative.
    – jake n
    Commented Jun 24, 2023 at 3:08
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There are some alternative front-ends to the Google Play store, like AppBrain, AndroidZoom that use a totally different search engine, and index apps differently, you may have different results if you search on there for your apps.

See also this previous question for some more info: What are the alternative Android app markets?

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I abandoned Google Play because:

  • Downloads get aborted on network interruption
  • Loading of app details is slow
  • Screenshots of apps are not clear on the small display

Now I use the following apps:

Mobogenie

  • Good for browsing and downloading apps, even on slow and interrupted internet connection
  • Zoomable screenshots allow viewing details clear on small devices

F-droid

  • Easily install open sources apps
  • Offline browsing
  • Multi-version download

Aptoide

  • Multiversion support

    After installing some apps, I just realised they are not working as advertised by the developer. Some apps didn't even launch. In most cases, this is due to a bug introduced while adding new features to the app. Downgrading to an older version fixes this. Aptoide allows doing so by navigating to the multi version tab.

1mobile

  • For searching apps from lots of stores
  • Even paid apps can be searched and then opened in Google Play using the share menu
  • Apps can be downloaded directly from their website (info: they provide two links one for the current app and the other for their marker app with the same name)
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With App Finder, there is now an advanced search engine designed to find the best apps with a specific functionality.

It searches the descriptions of 2,300,000+ apps from Google Play, with data for all 200+ countries.

With an advanced search language and many filters, it makes it often possible to refine the search to a point where all remaining results can be examined in a few minutes, as I show here.

Available from Google Play here.

For more information see the thread on XDA, and here.

Disclosure: I am from Skyica LLC, the developer of App Finder

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  • just updated the info: AppQuery is now available worldwide and the number of apps increased from 1.5 million to 2.2 million
    – jake n
    Commented Dec 24, 2022 at 20:31

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