Facebook's App Center has arrived, and it's got more than 600 apps in tow, including big hitters like Pinterest, Draw Something, Nike+, Path, and Ghost Recon. Let's take a look at how it all works.
The first thing you should know is that App Center is not a Facebook marketplace akin to Google Play or Apple's App Store. Rather, it's a hub for discovering new and interesting apps based on your Facebook activity and your friends' activity. In fact, whenever App Center recommends a mobile app, it actually links out to Google Play and iTunes so you can easily download it.
On the Web, you can access the App Center through a bookmark on the top left of your news feed page. Once you're in, you are greeted, front and center, with recommended apps and friends' apps. Also, along the left is a menu of categories like Games, Entertainment, Music, and News, through which you can browse.
App Center recommends apps based on the apps that you are already using. The more apps you use with Facebook log-in, the more attuned it will be to your tastes. The Friends' apps section also shows you recommendations, but these are based on, you guessed it, the apps that your friends are using.
Once you find an app you're interested in, you can click through to get all the details. If you'd like, you can also play it right then and there (if it's a Web app) or send an iTunes or Google Play link to your mobile device (for mobile apps). This latter feature is hugely convenient, but when using it, be sure to check what platform the mobile app is available for first. Case in point, I was able to send a Pinterest app link to my Android phone, when in fact, Pinterest is only available on iOS. This caused a Google Play error on my phone. Perhaps a more prominent display of the platform compatibility would help, because as it is now, that information is tucked away at the bottom of the app details page.
Meanwhile, on a mobile device the App Center provides a significantly pared-down experience. In fact, it looks quite different from the desktop App Center, which, to me, was a bit disorienting. The App Center on mobile opens up directly to your Friends' apps, but on the phone it's called "Social Picks." Top Apps is another section that you can explore, which lists the most popular mobile apps for Facebook users.
One thing that needs work on the mobile interface is browsing. You can browse through Apps or Games, and that's about it. There are no other categories to help you navigate, like there are on the full desktop version of App Center.
Conceptually, App Center seems like a winner to me. I found its recommendations helpful and the Friends' apps list very interesting, to say the least. All that said, I can honestly say that I'll use it. Still, the interface has some kinks to work out, especially on mobile devices.
If you can't find App Center yet (it is gradually rolling out to users over the next few weeks), you can go to facebook.com/appcenter on your desktop browser or m.facebook.com/appcenter on your mobile device to try it now.