Joseph Thomas

On Thursday, social networking giant Facebook launched their new app platform, dubbed “App Center.” The new web-based portal isn’t a direct competitor to other application stores, such as Google Play or Apple’s App Store, since the apps live exclusively online. Rather, Facebook’s App Center is similar to Google’s Chrome web apps.

Users can access the App Center from any left-hand navigation bar within Facebook. They’ll be presented with a list of personalized recommendations. Alternatively, users can search for apps or browse by category. The App Center centralizes the social network’s third party web apps, based on user feedback.

Facebook apps are not exclusive to the social network, rather they offer fluid integration. For example, Hulu and Pinterest are standalone services, but leverage Facebook to enrich their service. Launching with 600 apps, there’s something for everyone.

Popular apps include:

  • Entertainment: Hulu, SoundCloud, VEVO
  • Lifestyle: Pinterest, Goodreads, Nike+
  • Music: Spotify, Slacker Radio, SoundHound
  • News: Mashable, BuzzFeed, WSJ Social
  • Photo: Instagram, Socialcam, Viddy
  • Sports: ESPN, Bleacher Report, Sports Tracker
  • Travel: Yelp, Kayak, TripAdvisor
  • Social: Bing, Path, Quora

As part of the company’s mobile-forward strategy, the Facebook App Center is available for iOS and Android users, too. Additionally, users can send apps from their computer directly to their mobile device. Overall, Facebook is attempting to bridge the gap between traditional computing and mobile by streamlining their App Center.

For developers, Facebook’s App Center is a rich source of engaged, highly active users. Having their app featured within the center is an added incentive to heavily integrate their service or game with Facebook’s API.

Facebook began rolling out the App Center to U.S. users on Thursday, with International rollout plans scheduled for the coming weeks. Meanwhile, users can continue playing Words with Friends or Draw Something without interruption regardless if they have the App Center on their account.