Facebook has taken a major step today in their quest to be seen not just as a social network, but a social platform: the company has finally introduced their own app store. The Facebook App Center will offer users a convenient way to discover, install, and share Facebook applications and social games. App Center will also mark the introduction of paid apps to the Facebook Platform, as a way for developers to monetize apps that do not fit within the current in-app purchase model.
It’s hard to believe that Facebook didn’t have an app store before now. Previously, the company touted “social discovery” as the best way to find apps, the idea being that relevant apps would appear on your News Feed through your friends. However, with the success of mobile app stores, and Facebook’s upcoming IPO, it’s clear the company saw a need for developers to be able to better promote their apps, and for users to more easily find them.
The concept of “social discovery” will actually be built-in to App Center, as each user will see a different homepage with tailored app recommendations. Recommendations will presumably be based on which apps you already use, and those that your friends use. App listings will also be affected by a rating system Facebook is implementing. The company says App Center is all about “growth for high-quality apps”, explaining that apps with a high rating will be prominently displayed within App Center.
App Center will also be available on mobile, featuring iOS and Android apps that connect to Facebook. Mobile users will be able to find social games through App Center on their smartphone, at which point they will be redirected to the iOS App Store or Google Play Store to purchase and install. Developers will need to utilize Single Sign-on for their apps to be included in this category.
Apps will also get their own “App Detail” page, which will include a description, screenshots, and reviews from other users. Developers can start preparing their App Detail pages now in preparation for launch. Speaking of, Facebook says that app pages submitted before May 18th will be given approval priority, indicating that the user launch of App Center may be very imminent.