Facebook this week took the wraps off a new App Center, an online marketplace in the mold of the iTunes App Store or Google Play. Writing yesterday on the Facebook Developers Blog, software engineer Aaron Brady said the App Center would go live in the next few weeks, both on the Web and in Apple iOS and Android iterations. Of note: Facebook's marketplace, Brady said, will now allow paid apps.
"Many developers have been successful with in-app purchases, but to support more types of apps on Facebook.com, we will give developers the option to offer paid apps. This is a simple-to-implement payment feature that lets people pay a flat fee to use an app on Facebook.com," Brady wrote.
Of course, for Facebook, the appeal of a centralized app marketplace is clear: It gives users more ways to stay on Facebook, for longer amounts of time.
But for the regular user, the App Center should be a boon, too. In the past, tracking down Facebook apps was something of an erratic process – this blogger, for one, relied on recommendations from friends. Now everything will be centralized, easily-accessible, and organized. Moreover, as Matt Peckham of Time Magazine points out, the App Center will also allow users to get to know an app before it's installed.
"Facebook says every app must have an 'app detail page,' designed to let us 'see what makes an app unique' before installing and accessing it," Peckham writes. "That alone should be cause for celebration, in my view, after years of installing Facebook apps and giving them access to various aspects of our personal dossiers just to learn what they are and do."
In his blog post, Brady of Facebook said that developers would have a range of tools at their disposal – which should help companies improve or streamline their products.
"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," Brady wrote. "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."
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