Market Filters

Quickview

  • Android Market applies filters that control which Android-powered devices can access your application on Market.
  • Filtering is determined by comparing device configurations that you declare in you app's manifest file to the configurations defined by the device, as well as other factors.

In this document

  1. How Filters Work in Android Market
  2. Filtering based on Manifest File Elements
  3. Other Filters
  4. Advanced Manifest Filters

See also

  1. Android Compatibility
  2. <supports-gl-texture>
  3. <supports-screens>
  4. <uses-configuration>
  5. <uses-feature>
  6. <uses-library>
  7. <uses-permission>
  8. <uses-sdk>

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When a user searches or browses in Android Market, the results are filtered based on which applications are compatible with the user's device. For example, if an application requires a trackball (as specified in the manifest file), then Android Market will not show the app on any device that does not have a trackball.

The manifest file and the device's hardware and features are only part of how applications are filtered—filtering might also depend on the country and carrier, the presence or absence of a SIM card, and other factors.

Changes to the Android Market filters are independent of changes to the Android platform itself. This document will be updated periodically to reflect any changes that affect the way Android Market filters applications.

How Filters Work in Android Market

Android Market uses the filter restrictions described below to determine whether to show your application to a user who is browsing or searching for applications on an Android-powered device. When determining whether to display your app, Market checks the device's hardware and software capabilities, as well as it's carrier, location, and other characteristics. It then compares those against the restrictions and dependencies expressed by the application itself, in its manifest file and publishing details. If the application is compatible with the device according to the filter rules, Market displays the application to the user. Otherwise, Market hides your application from search results and category browsing.

You can use the filters described below to control whether Market shows or hides your application to users. You can use any combination of the available filters for your app—for example, you can set a minSdkVersion requirement of "4" and set smallScreens="false" in the app, then when uploading the app to Market you could target European countries (carriers) only. Android Market's filters would prevent the application from being visible on any device that did not match all three of these requirements.

A filtered app is not visible within Market, even if a user specifically requests the app by clicking a deep link that points directly to the app's ID within Market. All filtering restrictions are associated with an application's version and can change between versions. For example:

  • If you publish a new version of your app with stricter restrictions, the app will not be visible to users for whom it is filtered, even if those users were able see the previous version.
  • If a user has installed your application and you publish an upgrade that makes the app invisible to the user, the user will not see that an upgrade is available.

Filtering based on Manifest Elements

Most Market filters are triggered by elements within an application's manifest file, AndroidManifest.xml, although not everything in the manifest file can trigger filtering. Table 1 lists the manifest elements that you should use to trigger Android Market filtering, and explains how the filtering for each element works.

Table 1. Manifest elements that trigger filtering on Market.

Manifest Element Filter Name How It Works
<supports-screens> Screen Size

An application indicates the screen sizes that it is capable of supporting by setting attributes of the <supports-screens> element. When the application is published, Market uses those attributes to determine whether to show the application to users, based on the screen sizes of their devices.

As a general rule, Market assumes that the platform on the device can adapt smaller layouts to larger screens, but cannot adapt larger layouts to smaller screens. Thus, if an application declares support for "normal" screen size only, Market makes the application available to both normal- and large-screen devices, but filters the application so that it is not available to small-screen devices.

If an application does not declare attributes for <supports-screens>, Market uses the default values for those attributes, which vary by API Level. Specifically:

  • In API level 3, the <supports-screens> element itself is undefined and no attributes are available. In this case, Market assumes that the application is designed for normal-size screens and shows the application to devices that have normal or large screens.

    This behavior is especially significant for applications that set their android: minSdkVersion to 3 or lower, since Market will filter them from small-screen devices by default. Such applications can enable support for small-screen devices by adding a android:targetSdkVersion="4" attribute to the <uses-sdk> element in their manifest files. For more information, see Strategies for Legacy Applications.

  • In API Level 4, the defaults for all of the attributes is "true". If an application does not declare a <supports-screens> element, Market assumes that the application is designed for all screen sizes and does not filter it from any devices. If the application does not declare one of the attributes, Market uses the default value of "true" and does not filter the app for devices of corresponding screen size.

Example 1
The manifest declares <uses-sdk android:minSdkVersion="3"> and does not does not include a <supports-screens> element. Result: Android Market will not show the app to a user of a small-screen device, but will show it to users of normal and large-screen devices, users, unless other filters apply.

Example 2
The manifest declares <uses-sdk android:minSdkVersion="3" android:targetSdkVersion="4"> and does not include a <supports-screens> element. Result: Android Market will show the app to users on all devices, unless other filters apply.

Example 3
The manifest declares <uses-sdk android:minSdkVersion="4"> and does not include a <supports-screens> element. Result: Android Market will show the app to all users, unless other filters apply.

For more information on how to declare support for screen sizes in your application, see <supports-screens> and Supporting Multiple Screens.

<uses-configuration> Device Configuration:
keyboard, navigation, touch screen

An application can request certain hardware features, and Android Market will show the app only on devices that have the required hardware.

Example 1
The manifest includes <uses-configuration android:reqFiveWayNav="true" />, and a user is searching for apps on a device that does not have a five-way navigational control. Result: Android Market will not show the app to the user.

Example 2
The manifest does not include a <uses-configuration> element. Result: Android Market will show the app to all users, unless other filters apply.

For more details, see <uses-configuration>.

<uses-feature> Device Features
(name)

An application can require certain device features to be present on the device. This functionality was introduced in Android 2.0 (API Level 5).

Example 1
The manifest includes <uses-feature android:name="android.hardware.sensor.light" />, and a user is searching for apps on a device that does not have a light sensor. Result: Android Market will not show the app to the user.

Example 2
The manifest does not include a <uses-feature> element. Result: Android Market will show the app to all users, unless other filters apply.

For complete information, see <uses-feature> .

Filtering based on implied features: In some cases, Android Market interprets permissions requested through <uses-permission> elements as feature requirements equivalent to those declared in <uses-feature> elements. See <uses-permission>, below.

OpenGL-ES Version
(openGlEsVersion)

An application can require that the device support a specific OpenGL-ES version using the <uses-feature android:openGlEsVersion="int"> attribute.

Example 1
An app requests multiple OpenGL-ES versions by specifying openGlEsVersion multiple times in the manifest. Result: Market assumes that the app requires the highest of the indicated versions.

Example 2
An app requests OpenGL-ES version 1.1, and a user is searching for apps on a device that supports OpenGL-ES version 2.0. Result: Android Market will show the app to the user, unless other filters apply. If a device reports that it supports OpenGL-ES version X, Market assumes that it also supports any version earlier than X.

Example 3
A user is searching for apps on a device that does not report an OpenGL-ES version (for example, a device running Android 1.5 or earlier). Result: Android Market assumes that the device supports only OpenGL-ES 1.0. Market will only show the user apps that do not specify openGlEsVersion, or apps that do not specify an OpenGL-ES version higher than 1.0.

Example 4
The manifest does not specify openGlEsVersion. Result: Android Market will show the app to all users, unless other filters apply.

For more details, see <uses-feature>.

<uses-library> Software Libraries

An application can require specific shared libraries to be present on the device.

Example 1
An app requires the com.google.android.maps library, and a user is searching for apps on a device that does not have the com.google.android.maps library. Result: Android Market will not show the app to the user.

Example 2
The manifest does not include a <uses-library> element. Result: Android Market will show the app to all users, unless other filters apply.

For more details, see <uses-library>.

<uses-permission>   Strictly, Android Market does not filter based on <uses-permission> elements. However, it does read the elements to determine whether the application has hardware feature requirements that may not have been properly declared in <uses-feature> elements. For example, if an application requests the CAMERA permission but does not declare a <uses-feature> element for android.hardware.camera, Android Market considers that the application requires a camera and should not be shown to users whose devices do not offer a camera.

In general, if an application requests hardware-related permissions, Android Market assumes that the application requires the underlying hardware features, even though there might be no corresponding to <uses-feature> declarations. Android Market then sets up filtering based on the features implied by the <uses-feature> declarations.

For a list of permissions that imply hardware features, see the documentation for the <uses-feature> element.

<uses-sdk> Minimum Framework Version (minSdkVersion)

An application can require a minimum API level.

Example 1
The manifest includes <uses-sdk android:minSdkVersion="3">, and the app uses APIs that were introduced in API Level 3. A user is searching for apps on a device that has API Level 2. Result: Android Market will not show the app to the user.

Example 2
The manifest does not include minSdkVersion, and the app uses APIs that were introduced in API Level 3. A user is searching for apps on a device that has API Level 2. Result: Android Market assumes that minSdkVersion is "1" and that the app is compatible with all versions of Android. Market shows the app to the user and allows the user to download the app. The app crashes at runtime.

Because you want to avoid this second scenario, we recommend that you always declare a minSdkVersion. For details, see android:minSdkVersion.

Maximum Framework Version (maxSdkVersion)

Deprecated. Android 2.1 and later do not check or enforce the maxSdkVersion attribute, and the SDK will not compile if maxSdkVersion is set in an app's manifest. For devices already compiled with maxSdkVersion, Market will respect it and use it for filtering.

Declaring maxSdkVersion is not recommended. For details, see android:maxSdkVersion.

Other Filters

Android Market uses other application characteristics to determine whether to show or hide an application for a particular user on a given device, as described in the table below.

Table 2. Application and publishing characteristics that affect filtering on Market.

Filter Name How It Works
Publishing Status

Only published applications will appear in searches and browsing within Android Market.

Even if an app is unpublished, it can be installed if users can see it in their Downloads area among their purchased, installed, or recently uninstalled apps.

If an application has been suspended, users will not be able to reinstall or update it, even if it appears in their Downloads.

Priced Status

Not all users can see paid apps. To show paid apps, a device must have a SIM card and be running Android 1.1 or later, and it must be in a country (as determined by SIM carrier) in which paid apps are available.

Country / Carrier Targeting

When you upload your app to the Android Market, you can select specific countries to target. The app will only be visible to the countries (carriers) that you select, as follows:

  • A device's country is determined based on the carrier, if a carrier is available. If no carrier can be determined, the Market application tries to determine the country based on IP.

  • Carrier is determined based on the device's SIM (for GSM devices), not the current roaming carrier.

Native Platform

An application that includes native libraries that target a specific platform (ARM EABI v7, for example) will only be visible on devices that support that platform. For details about the NDK and using native libraries, see What is the Android NDK?

Forward-Locked Applications

To forward lock an application, set copy protection to "On" when you upload the application to Market. Market will not show copy-protected applications on developer devices or unreleased devices.

Advanced Manifest Filters

In addition to the manifest elements in table 1, Android Market can also filter applications based on the advanced manifest elements in table 3.

These manifest elements and the filtering they trigger are for exceptional use-cases only. They are designed for some types of high-performance games and similar applications that require strict controls on application distribution. Most applications should never use these filters.

Table 3. Advanced manifest elements for Android Market filtering.

Manifest Element Summary
<compatible-screens>

Android Market filters the application if the device screen size and density does not match any of the screen configurations (declared by a <screen> element) in the <compatible-screens> element.

Caution: Normally, you should not use this manifest element. Using this element can dramatically reduce the potential user base for your application, by excluding all combinations of screen size and density that you have not listed. You should instead use the <supports-screens> manifest element (described above in table 1) to enable screen compatibility mode for screen configurations you have not accounted for with alternative resources.

<supports-gl-texture>

Android Market filters the application unless one or more of the GL texture compression formats supported by the application are also supported by the device.

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