Regardless of what you think about the Android platform, there’s no denying that the Market experience for finding apps is pretty poor. And that’s putting it nicely. Google has evolved the experience over the years, and the web-based Market helps a lot. But on the phone, even with Gingerbread, it’s far from great. Today, Chomp, the app search engine, launches an experience for Android that is great.
If you’ve heard of Chomp before, it was likely from their iPhone app, which focused on not only search but also personalized recommendations. But with the Chomp for Android experience, co-founder Ben Keighran decided they wanted to strip the service to its core, based on the usage patterns they’ve seen on both the iPhone and the web.
“We found out that while early on, people enjoy the social stuff, it wasn’t very sticky and people weren’t returning to the service,” Keighran tells us. “What we found was that users were actually typing into the search box what type of app they wanted to use — things like ‘expense trackers’, ‘food’, and ‘puzzle games’,” he continues. And so that’s what Chomp decided to focus on.
Keighran gave me a demo last week of just how poor this experience currently is on Android’s Market. Typing in any category gives you and handful of results that appear to be completely out of context. That’s because the search in the Market uses a combination of metadata, titles, and other signals that are obvious — and can obviously be gamed.
“We’ve developed the algorithm that really stands out on Android since search is so bad,” Keighran says. “It learns the topic and function of every app in the store. And using AI and machine learning, it builds a whole new database of apps,” he continues noting that they’ve had 20 computer scientists working on this patented technology.
And it’s not just what’s underneath — Chomp on Android actually looks really good and gives you a pleasing way to browse apps. Navigation is simple and intuitive, and the core way to browse when you find the category you’re looking for is just to swipe from side to side across different apps until you find the one you want.
And when you do find the one you want, installing it is as simple as it is in the Market. Thanks to the deep APIs that Android offers, you can download an app in the background and then be placed right back where you were in Chomp.
Alongside the Android update, Chomp’s website is getting an overhaul today as well to highlight the aforementioned things. Chomp’s key value proposition isn’t that it’s great for iPhone app search or Android app search, but rather that it’s great for all app search. And that’s why others like Blekko are now serving up their results. The big boys — Google, Bing, and Yahoo — don’t yet use Chomp’s app results, but I would not be surprised at all to see one of them getting on board soon.
Below, find a couple videos Keighran made to talk about the new app, including a lengthy one with advisor Kevin Rose.