Facebook To Put App Quality First With App Center

Here’s a thought: What if app discovery were driven by quality, as opposed to buzz or sheer number of users? That’s the idea behind Facebook’s soon-to-be-released App Center. Here’s TechCrunch with the details:

Today, Facebook app discovery too heavily favors the loudest apps with the most users, so Facebook today announces it will soon launch the App Center, a single, personalized hub for discovering the highest quality Facebook-integrated games and utilities from across the web and mobile. And for the first time, Facebook is beta testing the option for developers to sell pre-paid web and HTML5 apps. You’ll be able to access App Center via the web or mobile, and you can send apps you discover on a the web to your littler devices.

App Center could be a huge boon to app growth on Facebook, especially for those that are beloved but not inherently viral.   With any luck, App Center will usher in an age where your news feed is filled with apps you actually want use, not just the spammiest ones or those with the biggest marketing budgets.

Unlike the unpersonalized app directory Facebook shut down a year ago, App Center won’t list every available app, just the ones with the highest customer ratings, engagement, session length, and voluntary sharing. App Center dynamically shows you different apps depending on your habits. If you play games, that’s what you’ll see. If you think those are a waste of time and only use utility apps like BranchOut or Open Graph apps like Foodspotting, those will be what appear.

This is obviously a development that’s sure to put more emphasis on mobile app testing. The article continues:

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Faceboook Joins the App Race

Facebook App CenterApps aren’t new to the world of Facebook, but now instead of relying solely on users’ news feeds to spread the word about Facebook integrated apps the social media giant is creating a place for users too actively seek out new apps. From All Things D:

In yet another huge stride toward bolstering its app platform, the company announced plans for its own central app hub inside Facebook itself, making it easier for users to discover Facebook-integrated apps, as well as easier for developers to submit and feature their apps on Facebook itself. …

It’s not exactly a proper “App Store” competitor to take on the likes of Apple or Google’s respective hubs. It’s more of a centralized location so that everyone — users and developers alike — knows where to go to find Facebook apps.

But instead of just presenting visitors with a random selection of apps, Facebook’s hub will take a look at what your friends are using and put those at the top of list. Apps that are getting high ratings within the Facebook ecosystem overall will also be recommended. Facebook hopes this system will promote quality apps.

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Zuckerberg Visits Boston (in search of mobile talent?)

The big news in Boston this week is the return of Mark Zuckerberg, who’s come back in search of tech talent – engineers, developers and perhaps even testers. Based on their recent hiring of a mobile developer team in San Francisco, there’s good reason to believe this round of head hunting is also centered around mobile, something Facebook has been focusing on for the better part of two years. Here’s the story on his return from The Boston Herald:

Zuckerberg said he made the trip to Harvard — and to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology earlier in the day, meeting with 200-plus students at each school — because “there’s a lot of really smart people here, and a lot of them are making decisions on where they’re going to work when they graduate.”

At MIT, Zuckerberg told reporters that he talked to many venture capitalists after starting Facebook in his Harvard dorm room, but ultimately concluded the ones that he wanted to work with — people like PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel, who had started companies themselves — necessitated his move to Silicon Valley.

Zuckerberg also clarified remarks that he made recently at Stanford University about possibly staying in Boston if he had to do it all over again.

“The point I was trying to make wasn’t that I could necessarily have started Facebook in Boston or stayed here,” said Zuckerberg, who still looked like a student in a T-shirt, sneakers and jeans. “It was that I think there is more than one place for people to build companies. There’s a feeling in Silicon Valley that to be successful, you have to be in (there) because that’s where all the engineers are. I don’t think that’s true.”

What is Facebook Phonebook?

As you’d expect, Facebook is one of those applications that has no problems finding eager beta testers. A story from VentureBeat hints that the social media giant is in the process of testing an app called Facebook Phonebook. Here’s the scoop:

A Facebook user has accidentally discovered an app called Facebook Phonebook. We’re not sure what it is, but it looks like the social network company is testing the app in Canada before a general rollout.

Facebook has been working on a number of mobile technologies and this looks like one of the newest features that it plans to include in its mobile app.

This photo, taken by a friend of VentureBeat editor-in-chief Matt Marshall’s, shows the screen of the app, which appeared on the home screen of the user’s Motorola Droid X Android phone. The app showed up on the user’s phone unsolicited. We’ve pixelated the names and photos of the user’s Facebook friends in the image on the right.

It appears that the app takes the phone numbers from friends that you already have on Facebook and organizes them into a phonebook-like directory. It only lists the friends who have made their phone numbers available on the Facebook pages. You can tap on the friends and then make a phone call to them directly from the Facebook Phonebook app.

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Facebook Denies Facephone Rumors on TechCrunch

To squash rumors of a potential Facebook phone, founder Mark Zuckerberg agreed to be interviewed by Michael Arrington of TechCrunch. The entire conversation is very much worth reading (although it doesn’t put the rumors to bed entirely) but here’s a snippet that mobile enthusiasts should take notice of: Zuckerberg’s views on the difference between mobile apps and mobile platforms:

It’s interesting, I think a lot of the time there isn’t such a black and white difference between what’s a platform and what’s an app. It’s really just like the most important apps become platforms. It’s like Facebook was an app for a long period time before we created a development platform but the fact that it was the app that was most used by its users kind of gave it the license to be a platform for a lot of other use cases. Right? And I think we’re starting to see that on mobile as well where I’m pretty sure on iPhone, Facebook is by far the biggest app.

There are all these stats that come out, I remember there’s one in the UK that’s like Facebook is more than half of all mobile web minutes and I haven’t seen anything that contradicts that in other countries, I only saw this particular study in the UK. So I think it shows that phones are really social devices and all the apps on them should be social as well and I think we want to try to make that happen. But is this our place to build hardware? No. Is our place to manage virtual memory? No.

Click here to read the interview.

Facebook Mobile: Where Credit Is Due

Yesterday, I blogged about the emergence of mobile payment systems and how they will require highly-specialized testing over the next few years. Today, I’d like to direct your attention to an fascinating article from Advertising Age, titled “Is This the Dawn of the Facebook Credit Economy?” Tomorrow, I’m going fishing.

Back to today. Written by Ian Schafer, the article speculates on Facebook’s future plans to create an international credit system – where virtual “Facebook credits” would be redeemable for actual stuff and things (two pillars of our modern economy).

How would this work? Here’s part of Schafer’s explanation:

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