Facebook entering the app race with its own store

When the App Center launches, developers will be asked to follow guidelines so that their apps can be included upon launch.

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Paul Sloan is editor in chief of CNET News. Before joining CNET, he had been a San Francisco-based correspondent for Fortune magazine, an editor at large for Business 2.0 magazine, and a senior producer for CNN. When his fingers aren't on a keyboard, they're usually on a guitar. Email him here.
Paul Sloan
3 min read

Facebook said it plans to launch an "App Center" in coming weeks, putting down an important marker in the brewing app wars.

For the over 900 million people that use Facebook, "the App Center will become the new, central place to find great apps like Draw Something, Pinterest, Spotify, Battle Pirates, Viddy, and Bubble Witch Saga," Facebook's Aron Brady said in a blog post. "Everything has an app detail page, which helps people see what makes an app unique and lets them install it before going to an app."

Today's announcement was what Facebook spokeswoman Malorie Lucich described as a call to developers to submit images and copy so that their Facebook can consider featuring their apps. She said Facebook's App Center is designed to push the best social apps through a personalized discovery page.

If you're a person who likes word games -- something Facebook would know from your Facebook behavior -- the App Center will surface those sorts of apps for you. Then, when you select an app you like, you'll be sent to the Apple's App Store or Google's, depending on your device. "We're certainly not looking at it any competitive way" with Google or Apple, said Lucich.

Yet Facebook will let developers offer paid apps (users will pay a flat fee to use an app on Facebook.com). However, one can assume that with over 900 million users on the social network, there will be no shortage of developers attempting to create apps. Facebook's decision whether to list an app on the site will depend on several benchmarks governing design, user ratings and engagement. According to Brady, developers will be able to monitor how their products fare on the App Center with a new app ratings metric in Insights to report how users rate your app over time.

More than 200 apps are now integrated with Facebook, and each has more than 1 million active users.

Facebook has created an App Center guidelines page which spells out submission and eligibility criteria. The following apps will be considered:

  • An app on Facebook.com in a canvas page
  • A mobile app built for the web, iOS or Android that uses Facebook Login
  • A website that uses Facebook Login and has an immediately logged-in, personalized experience (see App Quality for more info)
  • An App for Pages built to manage or enhance other companies' Facebook Pages
After creating an application, developers will need to follow these guidelines when creating their app detail pages.

  • Display Name - Use the exact name of your app, with no extra words or characters.
  • Short & Detailed Descriptions - Describe how your app works and what makes it unique. Be accurate, so people aren't surprised when they start using it. Use standard spelling, grammar and capitalization. Don't include URLs, excessive punctuation, price information, keyword lists or non-standard symbols.
  • Category & Subcategory - Select a category that most people would expect. See the category descriptions for more information.
  • Icons - Upload attractive, relevant, original icons. Icons should be simple and free of visual clutter (ex: buttons or additional info). Different-sized icons should be similar, with no distortion and pixilation.
  • Cover Image - Choose an image that conveys what your app is all about. Use simple imagery that people will easily recognize, with limited text, shadows, and distracting patterns. Don't use arrows or other references to the buttons below your cover image to encourage people to install your app.
  • Small and Large Banners - Drive people to your app detail page with visually compelling images that clearly show the name of your app. Don't include buttons, URLs, excess text, promotions, or price information.
  • Screenshots - Show off unique and engaging parts of your app, and demonstrate how the app is social. Don't use images that are unrelated, misleading, or dramatically different from what most users experience.
  • Images (general) - Don't put calls to action (ex: "Click here" or "Play now") or arrows to Facebook UI elements in your images.

You can read more about the announcement here.