Android Market Trumps Apple's App Store With Auto-Update Feature

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The latest Android Market update isn't a big one, but it includes one change that should make iPhone users jealous.

With version 3.3.11, Android users can set all apps to update automatically by default. Users could previously allow individual apps to auto-update, but this new setting applies auto-update to every app the user owns. The new version also includes an option to update over Wi-Fi only, helping users avoid data overage changes.

Back when I owned an iPhone, updating apps was a chore. It seemed like every time I looked at the App Store icon, a dozen or more apps needed updating. I could never update everything while out of the house--too many apps require Wi-Fi to download--and I often neglected the task while at home. To make things worse, all my violent video games and alternate Web browsers required special approval for having age-restricted content, so the update process needed a lot of attention.

On Android, apps can update automatically, but even this was a minor pain because you had to go into each individual app to check the auto-update box. That's not longer the case with the new Android Market version. Presumably, apps whose permissions change--that is, they want to access more of your data--will require a manual approval, just as they did before.

Google hasn't officially released this version of the Android Market yet, but you can download a leaked version from Android Police if you're impatient. No rooting is required, but Android Police warns that the new version isn't stable yet on Honeycomb tablets. Also, you may have to clear the app's data (in Settings > Applications > Manage > Market) if the Market starts force closing.

Other changes with the version include the ability to auto-add app shortcuts to the home screen and the inclusion of a star rating chart on app pages.

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