A day after Facebook announced it is making it easier for mobile developers to monetize their apps using Facebook Credits, the company announced that it has launched the Facebook App Center, a new feature that lets users browse and discover web and mobile apps based on recommendations from friends and feedback from other users.
When Facebook promised the App Center last month it didn't provide details on when it would go live. With Thursday's announcement, Facebook said U.S. users now have access to the App Center either through the Facebook iOS and Android mobile apps or via the Facebook website. A wider rollout will happen over the next few weeks, the company said.
Approximately 600 apps will be available in the App Center at launch, including popular apps like Pinterest, Spotify and Path. Featured apps can be either paid or free and can be for iOS or Android devices or the mobile web.
As basically a big aggregator of apps, the purpose of the App Center is for Facebook to insert itself into users' mobile habits by helping them make sense of all the available apps. The App Center lets them leverage their social networks to find apps by seeing how friends use and rate them.
Apps featured on the App Center have their own page with ratings, descriptions and screenshots. If users find an app they like, they can either click to download the app if they're on a mobile device (which will then direct them to the Apple App Store or Google Play), or send the app to their phone if they're on the website.
From a developer standpoint, the App Center is a handy new way for developers to get their apps discovered by the masses. Due to the vast quantity of apps available, even good ones have a hard time standing out from the crowd. The App Center, along with the easier payment flow introduced Wednesday, is giving developers a new set of tools to monetize their apps successfully.
"The App Center is designed to grow mobile apps that use Facebook — whether they're on iOS, Android or the mobile web," said Facebook software engineer Aaron Brady in a post last month announcing the App Center. Brady said that the success of apps is determined by their quality as measured by "user ratings and engagement." The App Center comes with tools that developers can use to monitor feedback from users.
"Well-designed apps that people enjoy will be prominently displayed. Apps that receive poor user ratings or don't meet the quality guidelines won't be listed," Brady said.
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James Wester is a technology writer and blogger with over 15 years of experience in marketing and communications in the technology and payments sectors. Prior to joining MobilePaymentsToday.com as editor he worked as Director of Corporate Communications for Chase Paymentech and ran payment operations for AOL. James has a BA in English from Drury University in Springfield, MO and an MS in IT Management from the University of Virginia.