AppFlow, a beautifully designed app that helps users discover new apps and games for their mobile phone, is making the big leap from Windows Phone to iOS today. Yes, there are a lot of these types of apps out there, but AppFlow’s attention and focus on design really makes it stand out from the pack. It’s attractive, fluid, makes interesting use of gestures, and most importantly, it can actually help you find new apps.
Up until a month ago, AppFlow was a Hungarian-based company, but the founders recently relocated to Redwood City, California. “Entrepreneurial spirit is not that popular in Hungary,” admits co-founder Balint Orosz of the move. He and his other two co-founders Akos Kapui and Laszlo Zold had previously been doing freelance software development for others, but they knew they wanted to try their hand at making something for themselves, which is how AppFlow began.
“We’re app developers, and we saw that app discovery isn’t really the way it should be. A lot of people are trying to solve this, but we have a different idea,” says Orosz. “We’re very focused on the visual aspects, so we decided to start on Windows Phone 7 to try out our concept of visual browsing.” By visual browsing, he’s talking about something that’s very different from Apple’s own App Store with its search bar, app results, and lists. AppFlow instead delivers a feeling of immersive exploration of apps – more of a true app discovery interface, not an app search engine.
Despite Windows Phone’s lack of market share (or perhaps because of it), the original AppFlow app was a relative hit on that platform. It saw around 400,000 downloads and was serving up a good number of the total app downloads occurring on Windows Phone, too. However, an app that only lives on Windows Phone can’t really be a game changer, the team knew. But since the proof-of-concept app was able to generate interest there, the team decided to take their app concept over to iOS.
The new iOS app is designed more for what Orosz describes as “emotional users” – people who connect with an app because of visual elements, not star ratings or download stats. “They like the screenshots, they like the name,” he explains. “In app discovery, everybody is going to search or recommendation that blocks your browsing…you can’t really go deeper into the content,” he says of the competition. “You can’t really browse through the App Store. But the users who behave like this – those are the hardcore app downloaders,” he says.
In AppFlow, users have a “bucket” where they can save the apps they discover when browsing, as well as a section called “My Flow,” which contains the apps from all the other users and lists they’re following. AppFlow has a Twitter-like model where users follow others on the service to see what people recommend. To kick-start this process, the company has created placeholder users and lists so there’s already content to explore. These “users” have names like MusicMichelle, PhotoAppSophie, ITAddictTim, SocialSam, BusinessBen, and so on to indicate what kind of content their lists contain.
Orosz says these “users” will continue to update AppFlow with their own curated content, but the hope is that, in the future, they will play a smaller role in app discovery as more “real” users come on board. Today, there are 25 users in total and 700 lists to explore across sections like “Hot Apps,” “New and Impressive Apps,” “Top Paid Apps,” “Trending App Lists,” and more.
But the most notable thing about AppFlow is the experience of using it – something which you have to try for yourself, really. The screens slide and transition fluidly, taps and gestures let you navigate quickly, and content in the app is detailed enough without feeling overly cluttered with information. It’s definitely a different feeling than you usually get in iOS applications.
Now based in California, these young, first-time entrepreneurs are dialing down their side projects for clients and are looking to raise funding in order to focus on AppFlow going forward. You can download the app for yourself from here.