Want to give your app store’s long tail a tug? Try the new Xyo

Xyo has long been one of the most intriguing Berlin startups: a mobile analytics firm that wrangled data for clients while quietly developing its own app recommendation engine. Simply put, the company’s mission is to use many fine-grained categories to surface those apps that you usually don’t find, because they’re too far down the list in app stores’ relatively broad category types.

Now Xyo has a new weapon in that quest: Facebook(s fb). The firm’s new service, Apps For Me, taps into the social network to see what the user’s likes are and then recommends new apps accordingly. So, whereas using Xyo’s previous incarnation meant digging down through categories and subcategories (which can be fun in itself), “the new Xyo” essentially provides a kickstart based on established tastes.

Xyo diagram

The service also brings up the user’s friends’ app interests, and even suggests apps to recommend back to those friends. As Xyo CEO Zoe Adamovicz put it: “When I see the face of a friend in a search result for eBooks apps, my personal relationship with him or her makes me more curious to explore this app interest further.”

Apps For Me works for Android(s goog), iPhone, iPad(s aapl) and Windows Phone(s msft). In my brief hands-on testing, I found it works quite well but not perfectly. Because I’ve “liked” Malcolm Tucker (a TV and film character) and Hot Chip (a band), it suggested I go for movie trivia apps, and my liking of the obtuse comedy writer Charlie Brooker somehow resulted in a recommendation for “puzzles and logic games” – but otherwise my political leanings led to political suggestions, musical tastes to “rock and metal” and so on.

As Xyo co-founder Matthäus Krzykowski noted, this is all part of the shift from a Google world to a Google Now world – search is still integral, but predictions of what you might want to search for are increasingly part of the equation. “In this sense the new Xyo is an app recommendation engine for the mobile world,” he said.

To be fair, Xyo is not the first outfit to promise socially powered app recommendations: recent startups attacking this space include AppCurious for iOS and AppUpdate for Android. But Xyo is a company with a serious track record and is as such well placed to finally crack this nut.

And it’s a nut worth cracking. Numerous surveys have suggested that most people don’t browse past the top 50 apps in their platform’s official storefront, so any development that might open things up for new entrants must surely be welcomed.