One of the great things about iPhone apps is telling everyone about the ones you like as well as discovering what your friends like.
Hereâ€™s a new service that lets you use email and social media to share your recommendations in a way thatâ€™s far more useful and effective than simply talking or tweeting about an app and linking to its website or iTunes location.
Appsfire does it better. You run a little program on your PC or Mac which scans what iPhone apps you have installed. Then, you go to your private area on the Appsfire website, select the apps presented as icons on a mock-up iPhone you want to â€˜faveâ€™, and choose how you want to share.
In my first go with Appsfire, I chose to create the widget you see (screenshot) here. [Later update: the widget has some odd behaviour so Iâ€™ve removed it and replaced it with the screenshot you now see. Click on the screenshot, or here, to go to the webpage at Appsfire with the widget.]
The widget itself is dynamic â€“ you can click on any icon and it will take you to that appâ€™s place in the App Store on iTunes where you can download and install it there and then (and if an app requires you to purchase it, you can do that). Use the scroll bar to see more.
You can also share the widget via social networks (currently, Twitter, Facebook and Delicious and as a link to the webpage.) and email. I tried that with Facebook, clicking the link in my private page. Nothing seemed to happen, though, and I donâ€™t know if anything appeared on Facebook: nothingâ€™s in my profile (the app didnâ€™t ask me to login to Facebook so no surprise) and I see nothing in the Appsfire Facebook page.
Appsfire is in beta. Thatâ€™s apparent to me as the apps you see in the widget arenâ€™t all the ones I count as faves. No FT app, for instance. Nor Sky News or WSJ. Appsfire didnâ€™t index those and quite a few more. (The email I received from Appsfire did say the Windows version might be a little flaky at the moment.)
Still, itâ€™s early days and no doubt improvements will come. I especially would like to be able to run my â€˜recommendations engineâ€™ right from the iPhone rather than from my PC (and thatâ€™s in the pipeline).
Incidentally, if you hover your mouse over the links to the apps I just mentioned, you’ll note theyâ€™re short URLs rather than the lengthy ones typical of iTunes App Store links.
Thatâ€™s a good demo of Appfireâ€™s Link Maker service which shortens iTunes links. Useful â€“ 22 characters instead of the 80 in a typical iTunes link.
I think Appsfire has a great deal of promise in how it (is planned to) connect you easily with your community on your social networks. Worth asking for a beta invitation.