Seven months after being gobbled up by Apple, mobile app discovery engine Chomp is no more. Having integrated its guts into the App Store in iOS 6, Apple shuttered its acquisition's legacy website and mobile apps earlier this week. Here's how the facelift has changed iOS app discovery.
The App Store certainly looks better. In iOS 6, it got a badly-needed visual refresh and the way app listings are displayed has changed for the better. The experience of finding apps has also improved, but the under-the-hood improvements are far more subtle.
On the iPad, the main "featured" tab of the App Store does a much better job than it used to of showcasing apps and breaking them down into logical collections for different users.
Some other areas of the App Store remain surprisingly unchanged. If there were any substantial changes made to how Genius recommendations work, for example, they're not overwhelmingly obvious. The basic logic of the recommendations appears to work more or less the same way and the results remain more sparse than you'd expect. Under the Social Networking category, Genius only recommends two apps to me. Both of them are based on SoundCloud (I have many other social apps installed on my iPad) and one of them is written entirely in Arabic.
Running broad app searches on iOS 5 and iOS 6 side-by-side, I didn't see any dramatic differences in results from one OS to the next. But while they may not immediately obvious, there were changes made to the way search works on the App Store. Apple boosted the weight of developer-defined keywords in search results, putting them on equal footing with the name of the app itself. This is a crucial change, since the name of an app doesn't always include the keywords users might be hunting for.
The names of in-app purchases now weigh less in search results, which has had the effect of flushing out apps that were using spammy search tactics. Curiously, the description field of an app's list still doesn't weigh much of anything when it comes to search, but the beginning of the description is now visible in some new contexts, so it can be used to grab people's attention. A slide deck published by iOS app marketing firm AppCodes outlines some of the under-the-hood changes to App Store search in more granular detail.
The App Store's discovery problem has not been solved with iOS 6, and many Chomp fans are undoubtedly disappointed to see the legacy product disappear. Still, there are some meaningful changes here and they're a step in the right direction.