The Android marketplace, Google Play, may now be catching up with the Apple App Store in terms of sheer number of applications available, but finding the better-quality apps outside of the big names is still something of a challenge. Today, an app discovery service called Appreciate has launched on the Android app store to address this problem.
The company was founded two years ago by CEO Amir Maor and CTO Yaron Segalov, both who have previous experience in the mobile industry and with big data. As they developed the concept which has become today’s new Appreciate application, earlier prototypes released into the Android marketplace gained tens, and even hundreds of thousands of installs, indicating demand for the service they’ve been building
Maor notes that the first version of the app reached over half a million installs, even though it was more prototype than finished release. The private beta launched around a month ago has already gained 10,000 users. While backend of these apps has evolved over the years, the version of Appreciate launching today would be unrecognizable to any of the company’s previous users.
It’s not just the overall look-and-feel that’s changed, it’s the entire way the new app discovery service has been set up, the way it works, the navigation, the personalized recommendations it delivers, and more.
Like many startup founders, Maor cites a personal need as the inspiration for building Appreciate, originally. “As the number of apps grew, we found it harder to find good content for our mobile phones,” he says. “It started with just finding quality apps, and that improved over time. But then, even though we could find quality apps, it got harder to find those that were more suited to what we were interested in.”
Maor says that though it has become easy enough to find the Android app blockbusters, sifting through a narrower category, like chess games or arcade games (his personal favorite) is difficult.
With Appreciate, while the user interface is attractive, the power in this service is the algorithms on the backend. Appreciate not only understands which apps are quality apps – a metric it understands by analyzing a variety of specific signals – it also matches those apps to a user’s unique personal tastes.
Appreciate doesn’t determine an app’s “quality” based on ratings or reviews, however, which Maor explains can be less than reliable. Instead, its secret sauce looks for other indicators – like whether or not users have installed the app then rapidly uninstalled it, for example – a sure signal that it may have left something to be desired. Apps with a good install base across your social network may also be recommended, as are those other Appreciate users have indicated are good, too.
Appreciate works better for those who sign in using Facebook, however it already knows a little about users’ tastes from the apps installed on their own devices. Within the app, users are encouraged to follow other “experts” who are also interested in the same types of apps, which also gives Appreciate a social network feel, to some extent.
In addition to expert recommendations, users also get personalized feeds showing app recommendations, apps trending across favorite categories, friend notifications, and a personalized app search engine which shows results indicating which apps are used by friends.
For example, if Appreciate knows you love wildlife, a search for “birds” might return an app about actual birds, not the Angry kind.
Appreciate is available now in Google Play, and the plan is to bring the service to the iPhone in the future. However, Maor admits that he, like many developers today, doesn’t really understand Apple’s new clauses around its ban on app discovery service. “It won’t be just mimicking an app store,” he says. “We hope everything will work well and they’ll actually approve it.”
Time will tell.
Based in Israel, the ten-person company has several million in seed and Series A funding by Magma Ventures, and many undisclosed angel investors.