New Likes! App Offers Recommendations And Ratings Based On Billions Of Existing Facebook Likes

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The new Likes! app lets people easily discover and evaluate restaurants, bars, movies, bands, books and just about anything else that people have ever "Liked" on Facebook.

The Likes! app lets people easily discover and evaluate restaurants, bars, movies, bands, books and just about anything else that people have ever "Liked" on Facebook

We went on one too many business trips where review sites and apps told us the best restaurant was some generic chain near our hotel. We knew we were getting those recommendations because they served the most people, not because they were best.

The Likes! app, released today, lets people easily discover and evaluate restaurants, bars, movies, bands, books and just about anything else that people have ever "Liked" on Facebook. The app unlocks the massive amounts of data previously hidden away in a person's social network and turns it into a world-class discovery and recommendation engine.

Most recommendation, rating and discovery apps are useless until there is a critical mass of users. The Likes! app, however, offers useful and relevant recommendations day-one by tapping into the tens of billions of “Likes” already entered into Facebook.

The Likes! app was designed to offer people ratings and recommendations based on their friends' and social networks' preferences in order to offer a more relevant experience than a simple mass rating system where recommendations are based on the general public's choices. As the company likes to say, "Your friends know best."

"We went on one too many business trips where review sites and apps told us the best restaurant was some generic chain near our hotel. We knew we were getting those recommendations because those restaurants served the most people, not because they were best choice for us," said Tobias Dengel, CEO of WillowTree Apps. "What we really wanted was a way to find out what our friends would recommend. So as app developers we set out to create that app. In the process, we stumbled on the fact that there are tens of billions of recommendations in Facebook but no one had yet made them easily accessible. The Likes! app is the first to unlock the treasure trove of data hidden away in social networks. Once we created it, we were amazed by not only how useful people found it but also how people became addicted to seeing what their various friends liked."

"Because the Likes! app is based on the friends' ratings (and friends of friends) it's much harder to game than most systems. Research has shown that current review systems can be easily affected by people with an interest in exploiting the systems. For example, in December 2011 a reporter from The Daily Beast found that with just 70 emails, he and his friends could get an article onto the "Most Emailed" list on the New York Times site (50 million monthly visitors) and with 300 they could get that story to No. 4," said Michael Prichard, Founder and Chief Technical Officer of WillowTree Apps. "With huge incentives for skewing ratings and recommendation systems, virtually every large system is being gamed or expending significant resources to fight the trend. The Likes! app is designed to be reliable."

The Likes! app was designed to be simple to use and understand. When examining a topic area the app simply tells a user how many of his or her friends (or how many of his or her network of friends of friends) have "Liked" the specific items. Users can find nearby restaurants, bars, hotels or other businesses that their first or second level friends have "Liked." The user can also examine who among his or her friends have "Liked" each item, so users can instantly make value judgment about the “quality” of those Likes. In addition, the app makes it easy to "Like" what your friends like with one tap, improving the effectiveness of the ecosystem with each “Like.”

Over time the Likes! app will incorporate existing ratings from a variety of other recommendation engines.

The Likes! app is available starting today for iPhone and Android as well as Facebook on the Web and mobile devices. Get the Likes! app at: http://www.willowtreeapps.com/likes/.

The Likes! app is being shown at 2012 Macworld in the Mobile Apps Showcase: Booth 818-P24.

About WillowTree Apps, Inc.
WillowTree Apps is one of the largest and most respected mobile development companies in the US. The entire 30+ person team is located in its Charlottesville, VA headquarters. Nothing is outsourced overseas. The company's designers and developers are experts across the nuances of iPhone, iPad, Android, Windows Phone 7, Blackberry and mobile web/HTML5 design best practices. The company has won numerous awards and team members are frequent speakers at mobile design and development conferences. Notable clients and apps include Johnson & Johnson, the University of Virginia, Manta, Crutchfield Electronics, Valpak and Vox Media/SB Nation. More information at willowtreeapps.com.

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Joshua Weinberg
The Digital Life Consulting Group
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