It used to be that everybody had a movie script or novel draft in their backpacks. Now, everyone and their mother has an app idea that they guarantee will be the next big thing. “Totally revolutionary,” they say. “No one has ever done this before,” says every developer under the sun. The fact that the world doesn’t need another calendar or notes app hasn’t stopped developers from releasing them to the App Store, Amazon Appstore, or Play Store.
Finding a decent – let alone great – app amongst the 650,000 other apps in the App Store is a daunting task. AppVue, developed in Buffalo’s Z80 incubator, is building a network based on trust to make finding the right app a little bit easier.
AppVue isn’t the first service developed to help people find new apps. Appsfire, Chomp (acquired by Apple), and Apple’s own Genius feature all promise to help users unearth the diamonds in the rough. AppVue differs from other services by relying on the people you trust instead of artificial intelligence, CEO and cofounder Matthew Epstein says.
“If you look out there, a lot of them are doing too much. Appsfire does deals and all of these other things; Chomp specifically was all about AI and generating apps that they think you would like,” he says. “AppVue’s focus is not on trying to predict what you would like. I say AppVue is a service, but we’re really a medium for communication and app discovery through the people you trust.”
In essence, AppVue is a miniature social network focused solely on apps. The service will launch with Facebook integration and plans to incorporate LinkedIn and Twitter in the future, allowing users to find their friends or people they trust no matter what service they happen to use. Asked about Facebook’s ever-expanding App Center, Epstein says that he doesn’t view the blue giant’s recommendation engine as a competitor.
“Facebook as it is is already extremely cluttered. I have 600 Facebook friends; I maybe only know half of them, but how many of those people do I actually trust?” he says. “People don’t want to use Facebook to find out about apps.”
Unlike Apple’s Genius feature, which looks at your purchase history and suggests new apps, AppVue allows users to upload what they have on their phones and then say whether they love, hate, or are ambivalent towards it. People that the user has connected with can then recommend replacements for disliked apps or new apps based on what the user loves.
AppVue is working to solve a real problem that many users face. In my former life as an app reviewer I would sometimes spend upwards of half an hour searching for an app that might be worth writing about. The various app stores (sans capitals) are a nightmare to navigate, especially if a user doesn’t know exactly what they’re looking for.
Voyeuristic tendencies may be AppVue’s ace in the hole. Sites like Swipe the Linen and Homescreen.me ask users to display their home screens (sometimes with a brief explanation), and the Mac Power Users podcast regularly runs episodes about the different apps someone may use to get work done. It’s not hard to imagine users following someone on AppVue just to see what that person has on their phone, eschewing the recommendations aspect of the service for an app-centric peep show.
“I want to make AppVue a household name for app discovery,” Epstein says. “I’m not saying we’re going to be the best, but that’s obviously my goal. If you don’t reach for the stars you’re really limiting yourself.”