Ah, the humble App Store. It seems that these days if you don't have an app store to call your own then you're not that cool, especially not on the interwebs. Luckily for us, we already have one - so, we've got that box ticked, right? Hang on, you're telling us that Facebook now have their own app store? Well, I think we'll just have to have a look at this won't we, join me, won't you?
That's right, today over at their Developer's Blog Facebook has indeed introduced their very own app store. Although, in true Facebook fashion it's not really an App Store it's an App Center. Aside from a new name on the concept; what else does Facebook hope to bring to the market. Well, there going to be bring a number of what they believe to be unique features, let's take a look:-
Fueling the Fire of Mobile App Installs
The main thing that Facebook appear to be pushing hard here is the installation of apps cross-platfrom; not just apps for Android, but for iOS as well as web-apps are to be included in the App Center. However, they need an angle to even bring these apps to your attention, right? With the following quote from the blog post we see their angle "To grow your mobile app through the App Center, your app needs to use Facebook Login." Whilst the wording seems a little vague it does seem to heavily suggest that if you want your app featured in the App Center it'll have to use Facebook in some explicit manner, perhaps Facebook Connect. This is somewhat a point of contention for me at least - an app is an app, why try and make it a 'Facebook' app. Facebook really want to push installations of apps on mobile devices. To me, at least, it seems that Facebook are going after curation in particular.
"Success through the App Center is tied to the quality of an app. We use a variety of signals, such as user ratings and engagement, to determine if an app is listed in the App Center. To help you monitor user feedback, we are also introducing a new app ratings metric in Insights to report how users rate your app over time."
The idea of discovering apps socially isn't new, you can +1 an app all you like in the Play Store, these results will then feed back to you in the Play Store but, let's be honest there are a far superior number of people on Facebook than there are on Google Plus. For those that enjoy Facebook with their friends could begin to enjoy some seriously sleek App Recommendations. The fact that Facebook isn't focusing the App Center on just Android or on iOS means that people are more likely to pay attention to their friends' app installs knowing that they can enjoy it as well.
Its one thing to have a store that is full of apps and apps recommend by your own social clique but, what we all want these days is apps of real quality. The only way to guarantee any such apps is to have paid apps welcome in the App Center as well. Thus meaning that, developers now have one more patch of land to set up shop on.
Getting the Word Out
This being Facebook, they naturally want developers to open what there calling an 'App Detail Page' which is essentially Pages for Apps, this in particular could be the door in for many of the App Center's users and developers alike, no App Store really gives a developer enough space to promote their App - after all, can you ever have enough room for promotion? The idea that one could read - on an app's detail page - comments from other users - or friends - watch embedded videos and detailed analysis from the developers themselves could well get the app's point across quickly and efficiently. With the right Detail Page an app could carve a name for itself almost instantly.
It's going to be interesting to see what the App Center holds for the near future, whether or not developers will flock en masse to this new curation tool come app store remains to be seen. I'm sure that once some of the big names - Angry Birds' developer Rovio who enjoyed massive success on the Amazon App Store, for example - add their apps to the App Center many of the smaller developers will be sure to follow suit.