Appfinder – Past, Present and Future of finding the best iPhone apps

Since mid December Appfinder, our latest iPhone application, is available on the App Store. We want to tell you a bit about the story behind it. Obviously we will want to explain what the app does and why we think it’s great. However, we also want to explain about how it came about – from the first idea at a coffee house among friends, through the many many steps of building, revising and re-revising the app… ultimately to the app you can now get on the App Store, and the steps that lie ahead of us.

What is Appfinder?

Appfinder gives you a great new way to find the best apps for the iPhone and iPod Touch by asking your friends what they like without actually having to ask them.

It works something like this: You tell the application which apps are your absolute favorites. Apps you would show to your friends when you meet them and you would recommend if they asked you about the “must-haves.”

Then you connect with Facebook and/or Twitter and this immediately shares your list of favorites with your friends on Facebook or the people who are following you on Twitter. If any of your friends on Facebook or of the people you follow on Twitter have done the same thing, you immediately see all their favorite apps.

The cool thing about this is that you can always stay up to date – as soon as one of your friends adds a new app to their favorites, you immediately see it in Appfinder.

But what if most of your friends don’t have an iPhone or iPod Touch (Hint: Convince them that they should use it!) or your friends’ applications just aren’t enough for you? Appfinder also shows you which apps are the most popular ones worldwide. This functionality is also available when you yourself do not log in to Facebook or Twitter.

Past

So let’s travel back in time a few months. It’s roughly the end of the summer and we were starting to get a bit frustrated by the sheer amount of apps on the App Store and we stopped looking for new apps we might like by just browsing the Top or Featured categories of the App Store. Instead we relied more frequently on our friends and asked them about new apps they might have discovered. It didn’t take long until we thought there has to be an app for that to make this much easier. So what usually happens when you have an idea for an iPhone app is you go to the App Store and after performing a few searches you see that there are a few dozen apps already there which do the exact same thing. But to our big surprise that wasn’t the case. Sure, we found a whole lot of apps which gave you different variations of the Featured or Top categories, but none that would use your existing social network. And so we decided to actually give this a chance.

Was the first idea of the app exactly what you are seeing now in Appfinder? Of course not. It is actually only remotely similar. Our first idea was to only use peer-to-peer connectivity to share favorites when you meet a friend and want to share your favorites while right next to each other. We had a whole bunch of features that we thought were really great. And then something interesting happened. One more feature we wanted to give users was the ability to share their favorites via Facebook. So we thought about a rather loose and optional connection with Facebook like just posting a message with all your favorites. But then this one feature changed almost everything. We felt that just concentrating on the use of an existing social networking platform would make the app a lot easier and clearer for the user and would provide a lot more possibilities than our feature set back then.

So the app idea got a major overhaul. The features we decided on after concentrating on Facebook were almost exactly the features that we shipped with Appfinder 1.0. Was this a great solution? Short answer: No. Pretty quickly after launching Appfinder we realized that the requirement that you had to have a Facebook account actually made a lot of users not use the app. So in a quick minor update we adapted the app so that Facebook wasn’t mandatory anymore. The only thing user couldn’t do anymore is see their friend’s favorites.

Another lesson we learned right from the start was that there was a big demand for Twitter support in the app. So with the next update we added this as well. Looking back now we wonder why we didn’t choose Twitter as the main platform for Appfinder from the start which would have probably been a better idea.

Present


Here we are with Appfinder 1.2.1 in the App Store and we’re very happy with what we have created so far. We think that it gives users a great new way to discover the best apps available for the iPhone and iPod Touch. We use it ourselves, to discover new apps and think it’s way better than using the App Store. If we caught your interest, just go to the App Store and give it a try.

iTunes Link: http://itunes.com/apps/theappfinder

Future

Are we done yet? Of course not. We have a long list of ideas that will make Appfinder even better and we’re definitely going to tackle one after the other to give users the chance to benefit even more from our app. But our next important step – and this is where you come in – is to spread word about Appfinder.

Tell all your friends with an iPhone or iPod Touch about Appfinder because the more of your friends are using Appfinder the more benefit it is to you.

We also want your feedback on Appfinder, as we want to make it the single best solution for iPhone and iPod Touch users to find the best apps. Feel free to send us any suggestions you have to feedback (at) theappfinder (dot) com.