In light of Apple’s recent ban on discovery apps, a new portal hopes to do an end-run around the whole controversy. Appolicious launched Monday appoLearning, a web site where educational experts recommend iOS apps for K-12. Although it touts use of educational experts to make recommendations on dozens of educational app categories, appoLearning offers a spot for paid endorsements. Still, the founder of Appolicious claims his app recommendation service will be a boon for Apple…

“We’ve talked to a lot of app developers in education, and they are frustrated because it’s really hard for their apps to be discovered right now unless they are popular,” Alan Warms tells TechCrunch.

Should Apple be worried the service is skirting its rule against discovery apps?

“This service, if it’s successful as we hope it’s going to be, is going to be great news for Apple also because it’s good for their ecosystem,” Warms answered.

The appoLearning site has broken down the amorphous ‘educational’ app search into 84 categories, such as ‘reading,’ ‘number sense’ and ‘speaking and listening.’

These categories are further broken down by learning groups, like Childhood, Elementary, Middle and High School.

appoLearning (screenshot 002)

As a parent and grandparent, such a service would be invaluable for those looking for apps that actually teach children skills, even if it also creates a number of questions for Apple and the future of the App Store as a resource for consumers.

Although the appoLearning service stresses its use of educational experts to vet the chosen apps, the top five educational apps displayed in each category are still chosen by paid contributors who rank the apps based on educational goals.

Additionally, while the first five chosen apps are picked for educational suitability, a sixth app (labelled as such) is there because an advertiser paid $250 per week, according to TechCrunch.

That very aspect – a quid-pro-quo between advertiser and discovery app – is what got AppGratis in hot water. Appolicious’ Warms said his company intends to create other vertical app discovery sites beyond education.

If such services proliferate, will the App Store’s power to rank apps be diluted, turning the site into just storage space for apps recommended elsewhere?

  • Hey Ed, my name is Alan Warms, founder of Appolicious. Thanks for covering our launch! A couple of points for clarification:
    1) the paid contributors ARE the teachers and educational experts – we are paying them to recommend the BEST apps for a given category. We are receiving zero dollars from any developers for this – this is a true separation of Church and State.
    2) This is a web service for now, not an app. It is only subject to the rules regarding Apple’s affiliate program through linkshare.
    3) Our thought is that when you get into very deep expertise vertical areas – think education, think medical, etc., an expert-type guide will always be better than a listing – theres simply too much to organize in the store.

    Ultimately, the point i was making was the easier it is to find great apps for Apple devices the better it will be for the Apple ecosystem. We do NOT use popularity at all to judge our apps – thereby giving great apps a better chance to be discovered.

    Thanks, and would love more of your feedback!


  • If it involves education and the bettering of our youth, I’m all for it. At least here in America, our educational system tends to suffer without any regard. I think applications are great for learning as kids become more and more into technology. Might as well align with their interests and have educational software at their fingertips.