We've heard rumors that Apple is trying to make its services more social-net-centric, and we know that the App Store needs a bit of an overhaul if it's to remain vital and easily navigable. But Mashable points us to an App Store Facebook page. Who expected that?
The Facebook App Store page pronounces itself the "official App Store Facebook page" and then explains exactly what this is all about: Becoming a fan of the page, or interacting with it as an iPhone or iPod Touch user (and presumably, soon, an iPad user) lets you "discover new apps, and share recommendations with friends." The whole point is to inspire user debate, word-of-mouth promotion, and a degree of social "buy-in" from Apple's userbase, handily co-opting Facebook's pre-designed and wildly successful interface to do so. Unlike the actual iTunes App Store front end, this route allows Apple to do things like promote hot game "tips" and app tutorials, and the company's even throwing the occasional "free exclusive offers" bone to attract Facebookers to the site.
The landing Wall behaves like any other, but then the Featured Tab reveals a version of the same sort of featured Apps page you find on the iPhone or iTunes itself. There's also a "Search and Share" feature, which adds in an interesting ability to promote an App to your Facebook pals (or the general populace, if you're one of those carefree types with unprotected Facebook accounts.) And there's a Discussions tab, acting as a low-tech forum for talking about apps, problems, and other Apple-y things. Obviously keen to tap into Facebook's popular gaming app craze but promote the gaming prowess of its own devices, Apple's also built a "Games" tab there, too.
Vitrue constructed the site, and there'll be more features coming soon, probably to aid how users can find useful or interesting apps among the hundreds of thousands populating the App Store. And that's all fabulous--one serious criticism leveled at the Store (by users, and developers alike) is that it needs to be more easily navigable, especially as more and more Apps are approved.
Still, this partial outsourcing of one of Apple's premier businesses doesn't particularly jibe with Apple's habit of keeping everything in-house. It must have been relatively easy to build, though, and not hugely expensive...which causes us to wonder if Apple's merely testing the waters of social network interfaces for the App Store (and perhaps the greater iTunes, by proxy) by borrowing Facebook's powers, before at some point overhauling its iTunes code and building in its own social network?
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