App Discovery Is Still Broken; MyPad Offers a Social Solution

App Discovery Is Still Broken; MyPad Offers a Social Solution

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their Friends tab, while your own Friends tab shows the apps your friends like and use most often. The Recent tab, meanwhile, shows apps your friends and other MyPad users have installed most recently, and the Popular tab shows rankings based on data from the whole MyPad user base, not just your friends.

Of course, users can still use MyPad to browse or post Tweets, Facebook status updates, or Instagram photos. And those feeds might occasionally be a source of app recommendations, if your friends are the kinds of people who tweet or post about their favorite apps. But the new app-discovery section of MyPad will be much more comprehensive, giving users continuously updated insights into their friends’ mobile-device behavior.

Twitter and Facebook “keep talking about how they are mobile-first companies, but they are not changing how they interact with users,” says Ratias. “It’s not apps that are getting shared [in news feeds], it’s websites and photos. We are trying to solve that.”

What’s in it for Loytr? If you tap on an app in one of the app tabs, the iTunes App Store page for that app pops up, allowing you to download the app to your device without leaving MyPad. Whenever a user buys a paid app that way, Loytr gets a small affiliate commission.

But Ratias says the real action will come later, after the company introduces a planned “profile page” feature. Tapping an app will bring up a page where Loytr will show not just information about that app, but also links to related apps—including apps that may already reside on your device, but haven’t been opened lately. Ratias says Loytr could charge app makers for placement in this related-app area, as a way to drive re-engagement or new downloads. And there’s lots more coming that Ratias isn’t quite ready to talk about.

“The biggest piece that’s missing [from the social mobile experience] is what apps your friends are downloading and interacting with,” he says. “Chomp was trying to be the Google of apps, and that is what Apple bought, but you still don’t know what apps your friends are using. So when you first get one of these devices, you have no idea what to do. And it’s a problem for developers.”

The social experiment on MyPad will likely be closely watched. If it works, expect to see lots of other companies following suit, or wanting to partner with (or perhaps acquire) Loytr. There’s a big prize waiting for the company that finally figures out how to move the mobile-app world beyond 1997-style discovery methods.

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The Author

Wade Roush is a contributing editor at Xconomy.

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