Back in January, Chomp arrived on the App Store to offer iPhone owners a great way to rate, share, and discover apps. It was so much fun that we even got in on the action, creating our own Gamezebo account. Now, nearly 9 months later, the team behind Chomp has given life to version 2.0.

Unlike most app updates, the latest version of Chomp truly reinvents the service. Everything that came before is still available – rating and reviewing apps, adding friends, etc – but 2.0 brings a great deal more to the table. In addition to a slick new presentation and a revamped website, Chomp‘s latest initiative can be summed up in one word: “search.”

Chomp is redefining itself as an alternative to the messy and incomplete searches that occur all too often on the App Store. Chomp‘s search engine uses a number of factors including app title, description, user review, and ratings to determine the most relevant results. It then ranks these results using user recommendation data to make sure you’re getting the best possible results first.

At the heart of all of this is a topics engine, which allows you to search for apps based on type rather than title. If you want to search for racing games, just stick “racing games” into the search. Your search results will even display related search topics, so if you search “car,” for example, the Chomp team suggests that you’ll be delivered related topics like “car racing,” “navigation” and “gas&mileage.”

All of this sounds great on paper, and most of it feels great in execution, but the “related topics” feature still has a little ways to go. When browsing the related topic “board games,” Chomp only found 21 results – some of which were Reversi or Checkers, some of which weren’t board games at all. On top of that, popular titles like Blokus, Catan, and Monopoly were nowhere to be seen. When browsing “RPG games,” a number of non-RPG titles like Fast Tapping and Fly Fun made their way into the list. And again – the topic results were limited to 21 titles. And that car example above? That comes straight from the Chomp team, yet searching for “car” brings up no related search topics at the present time.

news news

If you’re looking for a perfect example of how incomplete the related searches feel at the moment, one needs look no further than golf. There are a variety of potential topics associated with that word – golf games, scorecards, instructional, apps for PGA fans… the list goes on and on. Instead the only related topic that shows up is “golf.” You can still search for “golf games” and get great results, but the suggested topic feature just isn’t where it should be.

Considering the monumental effort they’re undertaking, the smartest thing Chomp could do is open up topic creation to their users. Let players dictate new recommended topics and help decide what titles belong under older ones. Chomp is already focused on the user-driven experience – it only makes sense to extend that experience to helping them fatten up their selection of related topics.

Still – the searches that didn’t stem from suggested topics generated exceptional results. If we typed “match 3” into the search box, we received over 1000 app suggestions. Some of them may not have been a perfect fit – there was an app for tucked away in there, as well as a number of memory-style matching games – but for the most part it was pretty spot on. The same went for searches like “chess” and “zombie games.” Even more complicated searches like “music trivia” and “BMW games” managed to deliver top notch app suggestions. After playing around with it for a few hours, we can honestly say that it’s hard to imagine a better search engine for the App Store than Chomp.

Chomp 2.0 manages to offer a stunning alternative to the iTunes App Store searches. We’re hoping to see the “recommended topics” improve over time, but even without that, there’s no question that Chomp offers a superior search experience. If you’re the type of app shopper that likes to browse based on keyword, consider this a must download.

Click here to download Chomp for free for your iPhone or iPod Touch, and be sure to follow Gamezebo once you set up your account!