I spend an awful lot of time poking around in the App Store in both iTunes and on my iPhone, just in the hopes of finding something new and exciting to download and use on my device. It’s not an ideal situation, and I often wish Apple (s aapl) would throw out its tired model and completely restructure the App Store from the ground up.
There’s little chance of that happening, but a new Facebook app could help make the App Store more navigable, and do so with a little help from your friends. Mplayit is a new service being offered on Facebook that aims to bring some sense to the jungle that is the 100,000-strong App Store using a more intelligent browsing system based on recommendations and demos.
The idea is that there’s no one better to recommend iPhone apps you’d like than your friends. Using Mplayit, friends can make recommendations via the app which will appear on their profile page and in the news feed. That way, you’ll have a trustworthy source when you’re shopping for new software for your device.
By far the most useful aspect of Mplayit during my brief use of it was the app recommendations and shared apps. The rest, including popularity, search and categories, is already available to users via the App Store itself.
I’m not exactly sure how apps get onto the recommended list, since I would assume that they would be the ones which are the most recommended, but then what’s to differentiate them from the shared app? Whatever the methodology behind their selection, the fact remains that they are good picks, and well-deserving of attention. The list provides a good variety, too, covering apps with a range of functions instead of just presenting, say, all the top Twitter apps.
The best part of Mplayit, from the standpoint of people who need to see to believe, is that most apps come complete with videos and images previewing the functionality of the software running on an actual iPhone, and a full text description, too. That’s what puts Mplayit ahead of other iPhone app discovery sites like AppShopper.com or 148apps. Of course, each app also includes buy links that redirect you to the App Store, and a link through which you can add the program to your collection, which helps Mplayit track app popularity and recommendation information.
Many people are reluctant to use Facebook apps because of privacy concerns and fears of spamming the news feeds of friends, but after trying out the service for a little while, I haven’t found any cause for concern with Mplayit. The best part is that you can still use most aspects of the app without granting it access to your profile information.