Google needs to educate developers to care about design and UX
I started using Android back in 2009 with the T-Mobile Pulse made by Huawei (what an aweful device :D). I was really excited since it was my first smartphone, and I never really noticed how incredibly ugly Android apps were in those days.
That changed when Google introduced ICS. Slowly, I realised just how bad Android apps looked. Since then I started to care about Android design. And I must say, there are quite a lot of apps now that look gorgeous. (Check out androidniceties.tumblr.com , holoeverywhere.com and the apps section of androidandme.com. These are my main sources for new exciting apps.) Google really did a great job with Holo and the new design guidelines. But have look at the Playstore. Look at the top-lists, the featured apps and the apps discounted during the various apps sales in the Play Store. Most of them are as ugly as 2010-Android-apps. Even those apps labled with "Editor's Choice" or are from "Top Developers" have shockingly bad designs at times. Now search for a generic search term in the Play Store (not a specific title). What do you get? Again, tons of hideous UIs. It hurts in my eyes. Where are all those UI-gems?
My point is that the Android app ecosystem is on a good way, but it's still far from great. Google refuses to force developers to follow their guidelines, and I think that's a good thing. Nevertheless, this doesn't mean that Google can't take other possibilites to boost app quality. The Android Developers team is doing something, though. They started a new format over at Google+ with a weekly review of chosen apps with focus on UI-design (The App Clinic, every Friday), then they redesign two or three of the reviewed apps to suggest improvements (Android Design in Action, every Tuesday) and finally try to invite some of developers of the redesigned apps to join a Hangout in which they can discuss the design and their thoughts on the redesign (The Developers Strike Back, every Thursday).
I believe this is a great idea, and the guys of the Developers team are constantly improving on this format, but I doubt the reach of this. In my opinion you just can't reach enough developers with this format. Sure, a lot of interested developers will learn from these great videos, but the developers not interested in design are the problem, and they probably will either not notice these videos or not change anything at all, even though they might see these design-lessons.
Google has to urge these developers to care about design. And I think it's not that complicated, just change your Play Store promotion policy, Google! You promote far too many apps with bad UX (as written above). Why should developers change anything if they have success? If they even get esteem by El Goog themselves?! My suggestion: Exclude all apps and their developers with bad UX from the promotion and only highlight apps that follow your guidelines. Additionally, introduce a "Great Design"-badge or something like that to espacially highlight the most beautiful apps. Introduce a "Bad Design"-badge to "punish" ugly apps. Ensure that good UX becomes a key aspect to be successful on Google Play. O, and last but not least, update your own apps, Google!
So, what do you guys think? Are you satisfied with the overall app quality on Android? If no, what would you suggest to improve the situation? And of course, thank you if you got all the way down to this line ;)