Applr brings social networking to app purchases

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A new online service lets users combine social networking with App Store shopping as they peruse the latest offerings for their Phone and iPad. Applr launched this week, the creation of developer Michael Johnston, who has been working on the project since 2010.

After users register for an account, they’re asked to list their most-recommended apps. They can also find other users to “follow”—much like Twitter or Facebook—in order to receive app-buying recommendation from like-minded indviduals. The service also seeks access to your Apple ID to scope out your full range of purchased apps, but giving that permission is not a requirement to use the service.

Johnston told Macworld that Applr does not store a user’s Apple ID password and can’t make purchases on their behalf. Allowing that access, he said, makes Applr work more seamlessly—making it easier for users to rate apps they see listed or recommended on the site—but using Applr without Apple ID permissions “works almost as well.”

The site lists the most popular apps at the top of its home page, and at first glance it doesn’t appear all that different from the “Top Selling” list in the App Store itself—offerings like Google Maps, Evernote, YouTube, and Dropbox top Applr’s popularity list. Johnston said Applr stands apart because users can compare apps by prices, the devices the software runs on, and the intensity of for-and-against opinions about particular offerings.

Johnston said a user’s ability to follow other users should shape the kind of recommendations they receive.

“You can follow people you know, trust, and have similar interests with in order to get recommendations that are relevant to you,” he said. “Because Applr operates on the follow model, users tailor the recommendations they see to the apps they're personally interested in, making it unique for every person.”

Applr currently exists only as an online service; Johnston said he “absolutely” hopes to make it available as a native iOS app in the future. There is no cost to use the service.

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