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App discovery service Appsfire has been working on helping consumers find quality mobile apps, but it believes it can make the job even simpler. The company on Wednesday is introducing App Scores, a new way of measuring an iPhone app’s (s aapl) worth against simple a Metacritic-like scale. The automated system works constantly throughout the day takes into account dozens of signals and comes up with a number from 1 (bad) to 100 (outstanding) that should help inform people’s download decisions.
The system is designed to overcome many of the limitations in discovering apps today. Apps Scores takes into account the consistent rankings of an app in up to 123 of Apple’s iTunes App Stores around the world. It examines the consistency, frequency and velocity of ratings taken from each of those stores, and it uses a Klout-like system to determine the reputation and track record of each developer. Then it combines those three main criteria with dozens of other signals such as mentions on Twitter and Facebook and on technology and review sites. The scores can be found on Appsfire.com and on the Appsfire Deals iPhone app. It will appear soon on the main Appsfire app.
Ouriel Ohayon, the founder of Appsfire, said this system has been in the works for two years and is a more reliable way for consumers to understand the quality of an app. He said in a blog post that current rankings are limited to only 200 top apps and the system can be gamed. Ratings and reviews can also be manipulated and are usually unhelpful for new apps. He added the App Stores are designed to give a local view, not a global view of an app’s performance.
App Scores can give users the big-picture view on apps and it can help users in specific situations, Ohayon said. For example, it can explain if a new app is good even if there are few ratings or reviews. And it can surface older and less popular apps that are high quality but just not well known. And it can also show when an app is low quality despite a high ranking or good reviews and ratings. That can help consumers see through some of the marketing games that some app developers engage in.
“Users don’t have to know all the details behind it – the same way they don’t have to know why a search results appear #1 in Google search engine. They will know instantly an app is good or not,” Ohayon said.
Developers could still try to game App Scores though Ohayon said it would take a lot of consistent work to keep up an app’s score. And he said the system is built to identify suspicious activity, such as a new app getting thousands of instant reviews. Appsfire also has labels for apps that are clones or are “low utility” apps, that provide some novelty but little lasting value.
Since the system is built on an algorithm, it needs good data to come up with results. So there is still the possibility for bad apps to slip through and the system’s performance can be limited right after the release of an app. But App Scores can get going within hours of an app’s release and start figuring out how to score it.
As I’ve said before, the app discovery game is still in its early stages and with so many apps available, there is a lot of opportunity in trying to help people find good apps. Apple has recognized its own limitations and has moved to address it with the purchase of Chomp. I think the idea of a score can appeal to many app shoppers, giving people a quick snapshot about whether an app is worth their time. I end up downloading apps based on their rankings sometimes, but realize later that its ranking didn’t reflect its real quality.
If Appsfire can help stop those cases from happening, it will save people some unnecessary downloads. But we have to see if this actually works. There’s a lot of moving parts but we should be able to see relatively quickly whether the scores are pointing toward quality apps or not. I don’t know that some of the top developers will see a big boost but it could be a boon for lesser known dev teams, whose apps often get lost in the shuffle. And it should be a big help for developers on Android (s goog), which is set to get the scores in the coming weeks.