With thousands of applications saturating the Apple App Store, its impossible to find all the games and apps that might suit your fancy. Granted, there are networks such as OpenFeint, Plus+, and Scoreloop, but these barely put a dent in the total, and even then one ends up searching these for what they might like. That’s where Toronto-based Kibboko comes into play with its Facebook Connect enabled application, Appblast, making recommendations to its users based on their own Facebook activity.
Using Kibboko’s “Bamboo personalization platform,” Appblast actually digs through everything the user has done, both recently and otherwise, on Facebook. People start out by selecting their device of preference — be it an iTouch, an iPhone, or an iPad — followed by a country of residence and Bamboo does the rest.
After digging through one’s Facebook activity, Appblast will make recommendations based on two elements: Your interests (“Liking” something) and recent activity. Digging back to when we “Liked” the Facebook game World at War months ago, it recommended any number of war-based games such as Call of Duty.
The second means of discovery, and also the most amusing, is based on recent activity; namely, status updates. It’s certainly a great idea, but as with any program that recognizes words, it usually can’t understand context. During our coverage of StarCraft II and Battle.net, we quoted the game: “Shields up, weapons online. Not equipped with shields? Well then, buckle up!” Appblast recognized “shields” and “buckle” and deduced that we might be interested in lifestyle apps about medieval shields and bucklers. However, one of the recommendations was about protection and held a bunch of fantasy quotes, so it wasn’t terribly far off.
Should users find something they do find interesting, Appblast has quick and convenient links that instantly bring up descriptions, screenshots, and any existing user reviews directly from within the app (no need to load up iTunes – unless you wish to buy it). Moreover, users can also mark each app as owned, if they have it, so that it does not pop up again.
This is actually where Appblast begins making use of Facebook’s social capabilities, as, if friends also use the app, they can see what their friends are buying and/or playing. That said, it is worth noting that while users can search for apps based on iDevice, the tab that houses all owned applications does not clearly state what device they are on. Also, the app does not appear to ever make recommendations based on the apps marked as owned.
Anyways, if your friends don’t own an iDevice, there’s little point for them to use Appblast, thus that discovery method goes out the window. Not to worry, though, as the application also includes a feed of best selling apps an what other Appblast users have been up to. In truth, it’s not nearly as effective as the recommendations (it’s basically the same as any of the App Store top selling lists), but it at least adds a small extra way to find apps.
In the end, Appblast is a pretty nifty little creation. It’s recommendation tools aren’t quite as sophisticated as one might think in that it appears to make most of its recommendation based on Facebook Likes, and it’s word recognition for status updates doesn’t always recognize context (though this can often be kind of fun). Overall, however, once players start adding in all the apps they own, Appblast does at least provide yet one more means of discovering something worthwhile for their devices.