Apple gobbles up Chomp to improve app search

Apple has bought app search platform Chomp, with a view to revamping searching in the App Store.

Apple has bought Chomp, a service that makes it easy to search for Android and iOS apps, and plans to use the company's know-how to revamp searching in the App Store.

TechCrunch reports that Apple has swallowed Chomp whole, with the Mac-making company taking on all of Chomp's tech and staff. Om nom nom.

Never one to reveal its true motives, Apple told CNET, "Apple buys smaller technology companies from time to time, and generally we do not comment on our purpose or plans".

Charming. But it's strongly suspected that Apple will be using Chomp's app-searching nous to give the App Store a much-needed revamp.

There are over 550,000 apps in Apple's burgeoning market, but in my experience, wading through that quagmire in search of decent downloads is a bit of a headache. Apple promotes certain apps by sticking them on the App Store homepage, but the vast majority remain stuck beneath the surface.

The search bar lets you find apps, but because apps often don't have descriptive names, it's tough to find what you want unless there's a particular one you have in mind. Chomp's approach is different, asking people, "What kind of app are you looking for?"

My experience is that most app 'discovery' comes via word of mouth -- with my friends and colleagues recommending apps worth investigating. But that's not ideal -- it should be possible to find apps by chucking a few descriptive terms into a search bar. 'Flight simulator', 'hunting games' and 'filter photography' are suggested searches on Chomp's homepage.

TechCrunch reports that Chomp has a deal with US-network Verizon to power search for its own app store on Android phones. That deal will end once Chomp moves over to Apple. So in buying Chomp, Apple is also scoring a fairly minor point over Android.

What do you think? Are apps hard to find? Which OS has the best app selection? I'm keen to hear your musings in the comments below, or over on our Facebook wall.

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