Mobile apps? They’re all the rage right now, especially now that the Anroid and Blackberry platforms are finally getting the ball rolling on their own app stores. Whether you own one of these platforms or not; you probably know, or have at least heard, about the massive number of apps available. Hence the “There’s an app for that” saying.
Zagg isn’t the first to try creating a mobile apps discovery tool but they seem to have done a great job with appSpace. Tied in with your iTunes app folder and Facebook account, it checks app ratings and makes recommendations based off your information. Read on for a more in-depth look at appSpace.
Heading over to appSpace.com, we’re able to check out a video that explains what appSpace is, view the total number of iPhone and Android apps available and get signed up.
Signing up is quick and simple. No email validation or anything similar; just enter your basic info. and if registration is successful, you’ll be logged in right away.
appSpace’s design is, well, rather lacking in my opinion. I see it as a particular style, although I think it could use some improvements to give it a more current and trendy design. This is judging on the home page only so far though, so we’ll see how the web app itself turns out.
Once logged in, you’re presented with an account setup banner at the top to connect to Facebook, download their “appScanner”, rate apps, etc. Below that is your app recommendations based on the platform you selected during sign up. The right sidebar provides app filtering and a few sponsored apps. The left sidebar gives you a quick overview of app discovery numbers.
The overall interface seems pretty intuitive, although I still feel like the design needs to be revamped. Aside from the interface design, the app discovery aspects of the app seem to be laid out pretty well. Your recommendations are front and center with easy navigation buttons and app information.
Before we get started on app discovery, we’ll want to scan our current apps and connect with Facebook (if you use it).
The appScanner is a small Adobe AIR app that scans your iTunes folder for your apps. If you don’t keep your iTunes data in its default location, don’t worry; you can change the scan location in its settings. The app is also setup to run at login and sync with appSpace during startup. I’ve turned these features off though as I’ll run the app when necessary.
Once the appScanner has finished scanning your iTunes directory for apps, it will sync. that information with appSpace and update your app recommendations.
Unfortunately the appScanner app crashed at 85% of the scan and again each time I retried it. Strangely, the scanner ran much faster when the app was selected than when I was using another app like Safari. As this makes up a big part of the “ease of use” of the appSpace web app, this is a pretty bad start.
Checking out the FAQ also doesn’t provide any troubleshooting information and a dedicated Help page isn’t available.
When viewing app recommendations, there are several navigation and control buttons available. In the bottom right of an app recommendation are three buttons; the first, a checkmark, sets whether or not the app is installed; the second, a book, bookmarks the app; the third, a heart, favorites the app.
As you mark apps as installed, rate them, bookmark them or favorite them, your discovery strength will go up and you’ll get recommendations better matching your interests. If you mark an app as installed but don’t rate it, a popup window will appear once the page is refreshed, asking you to rate those apps.
So far it seems the recommendations I’ve had have been pretty good or at least along the lines of my interests. I discovered a few new apps I liked within the first few minutes of using appSpace. However, only time will tell how well appSpace will be able to do in the long run. There are only so many quality mobile apps so it will be interesting to see how the quality of recommendations changes as it becomes harder for appSpace to find quality apps along the lines of my interests.
Clicking on the discovery strength badge in the left sidebar presents you with an overview of your stats with some tips on increasing your discovery strength and what affects your recommendations.
The pie chart gives you a better idea of what aspects affect your recommendations, with the majority coming from ratings/favorites, interests and installed/bookmarked apps.
appSpace seems to have a great recommendation engine and lots of potential overall. Unfortunately, however, I experienced quite a few issues that made it a deal breaker — for now. At the time of evaluation, appSpace was incredibly slow (unbearably) and because recommendation interactions like ratings, installed apps, etc. use AJAX, there was a very long delay in site response. There is essentially no indication of activity until something on the page changes.
Aside from being incredibly slow, appSpace does have a pretty decent web app put together. From what I’ve gathered from their blog, appSpace was just launched into private beta on December 1st. So it went from a private beta to public release rather quickly; possibly translating into site bugs and issues as well as heavy traffic that they may not have been expecting, causing the nasty slow down I am experiencing.
Until performance and app scanning issues are resolved, I’m going to have to rate appSpace at 6/10. Once these issues have been resolved I would say appSpace would definitely be a 7-8/10. Finally, with some design and interaction improvements, I think appSpace could nudge its way to a 9/10 rating. We’ll have to keep an eye on appSpace to see how it improves.
How do you discover new mobile apps? Share with us in the comments below. Thanks!