Applr: Getting Friendly with App Store Discovery

There's a new way to sift through the thousands of titles on Apple's iOS App Store thanks to a just unveiled online service called Applr. Think of Applr as the App Store search system Apple should've created with some social networking thrown in -- but in a good way.

Applr brings social to App Store searches, but in a good wayApplr brings social to App Store searches, but in a good way

Applr, which launched Wednesday as a public beta, offers a more tailored view into the App Store because it takes a community approach to finding the apps you're likely to be interested in. It's more like asking your friends about the iPhone and iPad apps they use because that pretty much exactly how Applr works: You follow people you know or are interested in and they tell you what they think of the apps they're using.

Applr is the brainchild of Michael Johnston -- the same Michael Johnston that hosts the We Have Communicators podcast. He began working on the concept in 2010 after seeing the frustration people were having when they tried to find quality apps.

To be fair, many of those complaints may have come from The MacCast's Adam Christianson and me since Michael had to listen to us, as well as podcast listeners, complain about Apple's hobbled App Store search system. Full disclosure: Adam and I are Michael's We Have Communicators co-hosts, and I've been testing Applr ever since it was an early alpha site (I'm easy to find. My user name is Jeff).

Michael said "The best app recommendations come from people you know and trust," which is far more efficient than hoping to stumble across the right app through Apple's search system.

Applr makes it easy to see which apps your friends likeApplr makes it easy to see which apps your friends like

Users rate the apps they download and can include comments, too. The social aspect comes in when followers ask questions about ratings. Your followers can post comments and questions to your app ratings and you can reply, making for more useful discussions than the App Store's comment system.

Applr includes filters to help refine your searches, and if you aren't sure who to follow it makes suggestions based on the apps you've installed. Getting the list of your apps into Applr is an easy process, too, since it can securely load your history and can auto-update when you make new purchases. Applr lets you tag apps so you can get email alerts when updates are available as well as alerts when they go on sale, too.

Michael says there's more in store for Applr and he's considering adding features like curated lists so users can share their must-have apps, share their own app of the week, and more.

You can sign up for Applr for free, and you can follow Applr's status on Twitter at @getapplr.