Appalanche: A Snazzy Recommendation Engine For The App Store That Sort Of Works

Apple’s App Store recently hit the 10,000 application mark, and while the store does a pretty good job at turning up impressive new applications through its Top App lists and on banners that scatter the store, most users are only exposed to a tiny fraction of the applications that are available. Now Y Combinator startup AdPinion has leveraged the technology behind its advertising voting engine to create a recommendation service for iPhone apps called Appalanche, hoping to surface the gems that are most appealing to users and might otherwise go unnoticed. To use the web app, visit this site from your browser.

The interface is sleek and intuitive, and looks great on the iPhone’s screen (the web app is also compatible with standard PC web browsers). The site presents users with six applications at a time, asking them to drag them into either a green “Like” section or a red “Don’t Like” area”. After making a few choices, users can hit “More recommendations” to see six new applications. Users can associate their recommendations to an Email address, so they can build up a larger (and hopefully more accurate) database over time.

While the site looks very nice, it still has some shortcomings. Unless you have a comprehensive knowledge of the applications on the App Store, most of the applications displayed by Appalanche will be totally unfamiliar, which makes it hard to categorize them under ‘like’ or ‘dislike’. The icons and names for each app aren’t particularly informative, and while you can see a brief description of each app by clicking on it once, the process is tedious, especially on the iPhone’s small screen. And because it’s so tough to figure out which applications you’re actually going to be interested in, the engine isn’t as helpful as it could be. That said, I’d love to see a recommendation engine and AdPinion certainly has the technology to do it – they just need a better interface.