Late yesterday afternoon, Facebook announced that it was going to be launching a cross-platform app store, coded entirely in HTML5, called App Center. Cross-platform meaning it will be available on both Android and iOS, as well as the web.

No, this doesn’t mean that the social network is looking to take on Apple or Google. The App Center will contain both iOS and Android apps, along with Facebook’s own titles, and will link directly to each platform’s respective app stores…

9to5Mac gives a good example of how this would would work:

“If you are visiting Facebook’s App Center on an iPhone, and then enter Words with Friends, or one of the many Facebook-compatible games, you will soon beam to that app’s App Store page for installation. The same holds true for Android users.”

Still confused? Facebook software engineer Aaron Brady gives an overview of what App Center will look like:

“For the over 900 million people that use Facebook, the App Center will become the new, central place to find great apps like Draw Something, Pinterest, Spotify, Battle Pirates, Viddy, and Bubble Witch Saga.”

Some of you may remember a report from TechCrunch last summer regarding Facebook working on a secret HTML5-based app platform codenamed Project Spartan. While this doesn’t completely line up with the site’s description of Spartan, it does sound familiar enough to be more than a coincidence.

For those thinking that this will be some third-rate app discovery tool, think again. App Center will come complete with a full ratings system, and both free and paid apps. Developers will even have the option to implement in-app purchases.

According to Brady, App Center will become available online and via the Facebook iOS app in “the coming weeks.” It’ll certainly be interesting to see what it’s all about.

What do you think? Is this a smart move by the social network?

[Venture Beat]