The app landscape is getting out of control. 500,000 approved iOS apps, 250,000 Android apps, then add BlackBerry, Nokia, Windows Phone 7, WebOS, and other platforms to the mix, and what you have is a full fledged flood of mobile applications.
Of course, this is great news for consumers who have a tremendous variety of apps to choose from, but in reality, do we really need SUCH a wide variety? What ends up happening, especially on Android, is that users are not able to find the best apps to fill their needs and filter out the junk. It is becoming increasingly overwhelming and frustrating for mobile users to find great apps.
As expected, this app discovery problem needs a solution and many startups as well as established companies are attempting to fill that void. This includes small companies you might not have heard of like Appboy that has an iOS solution to enable “app checkins”, all the way to Yahoo and its newly released app search engine.
The following are some interesting tools that make the challenge of finding new and interesting apps, just a little bit easier and more manageable.
- Appsfire: Founded by Ouriel Ohayon, Appsfire is a leading player in the space. Having recently raised a significant round of funding, Appsfire will take its already rich portfolio of cross-platform apps to enhance discovery, and improve and expand it. Appsfire now works on iOS and Android and offers various apps on mobile devices as well as the iPad. As of today, the company has apps such as Appsfire, App Deals, and Appstream on iPad, as well as its Web based search including a VIP section. These tools all offer a clean and user-friendly interface to discover new and interesting apps and the company is working on expanding its portfolio by introducing new tools to increase app discovery.
- Appboy: A Canada-based startup that originally offered the Web’s first social network for app developers has recently pivoted over to the app discovery space. Appboy’s new iOS SDK, dubbed Appboy+ offers iOS developers the ability to add a layer onto their app that will enable users to check in to their app and notify their social graphs that they are using that app. Sorry for the cliché but Appboy+ is the “Foursquare of mobile apps”. The new SDK is in closed Beta and if you are a developer of iOS apps, you can sign up for it here. When a user in your Twitter stream opens up their favorite app, with the Appboy SDK, you will see them check into that app and that way, you will find the apps your friends are using most often.
- Chomp: Chomp is widely regarded as the Google of mobile apps. It is first and foremost a Web search engine that enables users to search for apps on iOS and Android. However, it is not the kind of search you are thinking. With all those apps, there is no way for a user to know the name of the app they are looking for. What they will know, is the functionality they need in an app. With Chomp, you search for the word “Flashlight” for example, and are presented with the best options to match your query. Of course, Chomp also has its own apps on iPhone and Android, which basically replicate the experience on mobile.
- Appolicious: Yet another leading name in the app discovery space, Appolicious partners with Yahoo on its advanced app search capabilities. However, Appolicious goes far beyond search. It integrates social feature enabling users to see what apps their friends are using, and the company has also built somewhat of a Web content empire with leading app sites such as Appolicious.com, AndroidApps.com, and AppVee.com.
- Yahoo: The search giant only recently joined the competitive market of app discovery solutions. Just like some of the previous companies, Yahoo offers advanced search capabilities on iOS and Android. With the launch of the Web interface, Yahoo also launched an iOS app called Appspot, which similar to the Web, allows users to search for apps based on title description, or keyword.
- Zwapp: A relatively new and unknown service in the form of an iPhone app that helps users share their favorite iPhone apps with their social networks. The app integrates with Facebook, Twitter, and your phone’s address book and lets you see what apps your friends and contacts are using via a very intuitive user interface on the iPhone.
- Frenzapp: Very similar to Zwapp, Frenzapp scans your Facebook friends’ favorite apps and tells you what apps they are using. The company just released a new discovery service for music, which much like their apps solution, scans your Facebook friends’ music collection to enable you to find new music of interest. The basic premise is, if you are friends with someone on Facebook, chances are you share something in common and the apps that person is using would be relevant to you as well.
- Discovr: This solution takes a unique angle to app discovery. With Discovr, you search for your favorite app that you know of, or choose from one of the featured apps, and the service creates an interactive map of other apps similar to your selection. In addition, Discovr allows you to view an app’s description and screen shots directly from the map and share it with your friends on Twitter, Facebook, or email. From what I can tell, this is the only solution here that does not come in the form of a free app and Discovr costs $.99. Based on my first impressions, the UI of Discovr is what really makes it stand out and the superior user experience is worth the dollar price tag in my opinion.
These are some leading solutions in the app discovery space but every day, new ones are born. There are also countless apps and sites that enable users to find app promotions such as FreeAppADay, and many others.
With the app stores growing at an increased pace, these services are going to come in even more handy in the coming months and years.
How do you find new and exciting apps? Please let me know in the comments or you can find me on Twitter at @hilzfuld.
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