App discovery service Appsfire received a major makeover today, debuting a new app which now combines app discovery and recommendation with deals. Previously, the company operated two separate apps for this called “Appsfire Deals” and just “Appsfire.” Those two are today being merged into one new app, rebuilt from the ground up to offer speed improvements and better recommendations of quality applications.
The updated Appsfire app includes a rebuilt search engine with auto-complete functionality. If you start typing in “AN..”, for example, it will pull up “Angry Birds” instantly. But you don’t have to just search by app name here – you can also pull up apps by categories, keywords, publisher, and function, for example. And when you tap into the search field, tags appear below the search box show you which search terms are currently trending, providing a window into app store trends that’s different from Apple’s more structured lists.
The new app integrates users’ social graph into its service, highlighting Facebook posts from freinds and tweets as a part its app recommendations. Using Facebook Connect, Appsfire will allow users to see which apps friends are recommending as well as share their own activity back to their Facebook Timeline. These features are optional, and can be disabled in settings. Users can also make “app mixes” of favorite apps, which are also shared with friends.
Upon first launch, Appsfire walks you through a setup wizard which allows you to better customize the apps to your own personal interests. You tell the app what type of user you are (e.g. a gamer, parent, student, traveler, etc.) as well as whether you want to see mostly deals, only free apps, and whether or not you want to see games.
Once the setup is complete, the app’s homescreen features a variety of categories including the best deals of the day, staff highlights, deals by category, trending apps, friends’ recommendations and more, depending how you’ve configured the service. While some app discovery services allow users to filter the apps shown after the fact, Appsfire is taking an interesting approach by asking users right at the beginning to customize these options. The “personas,” explains Appsfire co-founder Ouriel Ohayon, are a part the company’s ongoing effort to teach its “app genome” to understand which apps are associated with which need.
Another key improvement in today’s Appsfire 4.0 release is the focus on quality apps. In addition to filtering based on personas, apps are also filtered based on Appsfire’s quality scoring technology. This proprietary system determines the quality of the app using factors beyond general popularity, including things like patterns in App Store reviews and ratings, sourcing from thousands of other reviews outside the App Store, developer reputation, the developer’s history of cheating to boost rankings, and more. “The stream of apps recommended are all filtered by app score,” says Ohayon, “meaning that we serve only great apps or promising apps.”
In some brief tests this morning, Appsfire did appear to live up to its claims in terms of speed and quality, with the only complaint being that some elements of the user interface are a bit small, leading to errant taps. But for iPhone 5 users (which the app supports), this is less of a concern.
Appsfire’s version 4.0 release is live now in the App Store here.