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Facebook reveals plans for App Centre

The App Centre will go live for Facebook users in the coming weeks, and the social network is encouraging developers to act now.

The world's largest social network will soon be opening up its own app store for its users – all 900 million of them.

The App Centre will be a new hub for social apps and games, and is touted by the network as a new way for developers to grow their apps. The app store will be rolled out in the coming weeks to users across Web, iOS and Android versions of Facebook.

Facebook's Aaron Brady posted the details of the upcoming App Centre on the Facebook Developers' blog. “All canvas, mobile and Web apps that follow the guidelines can be listed. All developers should start preparing today to make sure their app is included for the launch.”

While many social apps and games on Facebook have included in-app purchases, now the social network will also be offering paid-for apps.

“This is a simple-to-implement payment feature that lets people pay a flat fee to use an app on Facebook.com,” says Brady, adding that those interested in being part of the beta programme should sign up.

Brady says the App Centre will become the new central place to find apps. “Everything has an app detail page, which helps people see what makes an app unique and lets them install it before going to an app.”

Changing the model of success for Facebook apps, the app store will focus on quality rather than popularity alone. Brady explains the concept for developers: “We use a variety of signals, such as user ratings and engagement, to determine if an app is listed in the App Centre. To help you monitor user feedback, we are also introducing a new app ratings metric in Insights to report how users rate your app over time.”

Apps that are given poor user-ratings or don't meet quality guidelines won't be listed in the App Centre, according to Facebook.

New revenue

As for mobile users, when accessing the App Centre, they will see only the apps that are compatible with their devices. The new App Centre is not positioned as a competitor to iOS and Android, but is rather being angled by the social giant as a means for developers to grow their apps. According to Facebook, for native mobile apps that require installation, the user will be redirected to the Apple App Store or to Google Play.

Brady explains that developers wanting to use the App Centre as a platform to grow their existing mobile apps will need to use Facebook Login in their apps.

Developers are also advised to create an “app detail” page, which is a requirement for listing in the App Centre. All app detail pages will be subject to review by Facebook prior to being published, and applications submitted before next Friday (18 May) will be prioritised.

The announcement marks a big step for Facebook in expanding its own platform and ensuring users are kept engaged within a single ecosystem.

In the run-up to Facebook's highly anticipated IPO, the social network's ability to show new potential revenue streams is paramount. The App Centre and the addition of paid-apps to Facebook could be a major source of income, and could provide a means for the social network to begin monetising its significant mobile user base.

Reuters reports Facebook users will have to use Facebook Credits to purchase apps, and the social network will take a 30% cut of revenue (the same cut it takes from in-app purchases).


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