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Facebook store to roll out first paid apps

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Cross-platform store will take user ratings into account when deciding whether to list apps

Facebook is getting into the app store game, announcing an initiative called App Center which it claims will help developers get their social web and mobile applications discovered by more people.

The App Center will spotlight free and paid applications that use Facebook’s social graph. It will be a part of the Facebook website, but also the company’s iOS and Android apps.

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“For the over 900 million people that use Facebook, the App Center will become the new, central place to find great apps like Draw Something, Pinterest, Spotify, Battle Pirates, Viddy, and Bubble Witch Saga,” explains Facebook in a blog post aimed at developers.

Apps will be sorted by category, including games, communications, lifestyle, music, news, photos & videos, sports, travel & local, TV & movies and utilities. Each app gets its own page on the store, which will become the first thing Facebook users see when searching for it – but only if it’s deemed good enough.

“Success through the App Center is tied to the quality of an app. We use a variety of signals, such as user ratings and engagement, to determine if an app is listed in the App Center,” explains Facebook.

“Well-designed apps that people enjoy will be prominently displayed. Apps that receive poor user ratings or don’t meet the quality guidelines won’t be listed.”

Those quality guidelines are available to read already.

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They include stipulations that apps must “have an easy-to-use interface, clear content, value to users, and no significant bugs”, while clearly distinguishing ads and content “without excessive advertising”, setting “clear expectations about what user activity it shares on Facebook, and when”, and not mimicking Facebook’s own user interface elements.

To help developers avoid this fate, Facebook says it will be supplying them with analytics on how users are rating their apps, as part of its Insights toolset.

Within Facebook’s mobile apps, people will be able to browse apps and then install them from Apple’s App Store or Google’s Play store if they’re native, or go straight to them if they are mobile web apps.

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The App Center will also see Facebook moving beyond its historic focus on free apps that make money from advertising and/or in-app purchases.

“To support more types of apps on Facebook.com, we will give developers the option to offer paid apps,” explains the company. “This is a simple-to-implement payment feature that lets people pay a flat fee to use an app on Facebook.com.” Developers can request to sign up to a beta programme for this.

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What’s interesting about App Center is the change of emphasis that it represents for Facebook. The social network’s app discovery has traditionally been focused on a mixture of virality – those messages that get posted in people’s news streams – and advertising.

In the past, this could have been seen as a sign that apps don’t necessarily need an app store to be discovered. Developers will be keen to take advantage of the change, but they will continue to keep a close eye on changes Facebook makes to its viral and advertising features.

© Guardian News and Media 2012

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‘The monarch has taken a body blow’: Ex-prosecutor explains why Court ruling is devastating for Trump

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On MSNBC Thursday, former federal prosecutor John Flannery broke down the implications of the Supreme Court's ruling against President Donald Trump on immunity from subpoenas.

"I think what it says is that the monarch has taken a body blow as a result of what will be an historic decision, as we've indicated," said Flannery. "I think that the position of the DA in New York is very special, because he can speed this up in a way that the House can',t and has a specific strength, I think, in this case, that it is criminal."

"The most significant thing about it is this is the first Supreme Court case in which there's ever been agreed that a prosecutor could subpoena a president," added Flannery. "Prior prosecutions have been federal, that have been treated by the Supreme Court. So this is a big difference. The majority of the court, 7-2, basically said, from 1740 on, the public is entitled to the testimony, to the evidence of any person. They said that the documents — the question is the character documents, not the character of the person. In this case, what we have is a situation which I bet that the DA is going to go to the court as soon as possible, move to compel an appearance to their subpoena, and going to have the discussion as to what if anything may be limited or excluded and get production as quickly as possible."

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Trump officials demanded the Army ‘dig for misconduct’ to justify firing Lt. Col. Vindman

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This week, Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman willingly left the Army after decades of honorable service. He cited a concerted campaign of "bullying" from the highest branches of power in the United States, and now more details are becoming known.

A New Yorker report revealed that top aides to President Donald Trump were told that they needed to find dirt on Vindman that could justify the firing of the decorated war hero.

"Vindman expected to go to the National War College this fall—a low-profile assignment—then take another foreign posting," the New Yorker reported. "But, in a final act of revenge, the White House recently made clear that Trump opposed Vindman’s promotion. Senior Administration officials told [Defense Secretary Mark] Esper and Ryan McCarthy, the Secretary of the Army, to dig for misconduct that would justify blocking Vindman’s promotion. They couldn’t find anything, multiple sources told me. Others in the military chain of command began to warn Vindman that he would never be deployable overseas again—despite his language skills and regional expertise."

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Russian bounties: Pentagon vows ‘action’ if intel confirmed

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Top Pentagon officials pledged Thursday to "take action" if the US military could corroborate intelligence suggesting Moscow paid militants linked to the Taliban to kill US soldiers in Afghanistan.

General Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Defense Secretary Mark Esper spoke before a congressional committee as the Trump administration comes under pressure to explain media reports claiming the president was briefed on the intelligence -- but did nothing in response.

Milley said the information was "not corroborated."

"We'll get to the bottom of it. We are going to find out if, in fact, it's true. And if it is true, we will take action," he continued, without specifying what kind of action might be taken.

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