Apple's App Store revolutionized the way users enjoy mobile content, by creating an ecosystem of countless cheap, downloadable applications and allowing users to purchase them and create massive libraries of useful apps, from addictive games to personalized news apps to apps that can even help save lives. Apple is getting ready to celebrate the 25th billion app download from its store.
Yet, despite the App Store's overwhelming success, the platform is far from perfect. Apple touts more than 500,000 apps in its ever-growing App Store, which is bolstered by waves of third-party developers, but its immense scale is a double-edged sword. After browsing through categorized and featuring apps, how does one discover new apps to enjoy?
Apple has a solution, but it needs some outside help. That's why Apple went out and bought Chomp, an app search and discovery platform. The news was first reported by MG Siegler of TechCrunch fame, and later confirmed by Apple. Bloomberg Businessweek believes the deal was worth about $50 million.
We buy smaller technology companies from time to time and generally don't comment on our purposes or plans, an Apple spokeswoman told Bloomberg.
Apple doesn't need to explain how it plans to use Chomp; the latest news solidifies rumors that Apple was ready to overhaul its iTunes and App Store platforms for the first time in about three years.
The new design is said to be even simpler and more user-friendly than the current design, said Mark Gurman, who originally reported the story on 9 to 5 Mac. Apple is working on ways to enhance the speed and efficiency of finding new content, such as songs, videos, and applications. The cornerstone element of Apple's new iTunes Store is interactivity. As Apple vaguely explained to a number of music labels and entertainment partners, Apple is looking to make the iTunes Store a much more engaging experience.
A discovery tool such as Chomp would make the iTunes Store a much more engaging experience, indeed.
Chomp offers a variety of ways to discover great apps for the iPhone, iPad, and all Android devices, too. The site features pages for new apps, trending apps, apps on sale, and free apps of the day. Chomp also provides pages for the apps considered All-Time Greats, as well as those apps trending heavily on Twitter. At the bottom of the page, Chomp also suggests popular app searches for categories users may not know about, such as voice recording apps, or guitar apps, or system utilities apps.
Chomp first surfaced in 2009 when the newly-born company raised a seed round between $500,000 and $550,000 in just 10 days. When it finally launched in January 2010, Chomp's original platform was solely intended for iPhone apps; the company has since expanded its platform to Android apps. Chomp even has a deal with Verizon to power all Android-based app searches, but now that Apple owns Chomp, that contract with Verizon could change. Apple doesn't seem to like Android too much.
With the acquisition of Chomp -- not just its technology, but its entire 20-person team -- Apple hopes to turn around its App Store and revamp its system for search and recommendations. Of course, Apple has the money to pull off such a feat; the company announced its best quarter in its 35-year history on Jan. 24, with net income of $13.1 billion on revenue of $46.3 billion. The company reported holdings of $100 billion in cash.
Chomp told 9 to 5 Mac that its team has already been working with Apple. Chomp's CEO Ben Keighran and CTO Cathy Edwards have joined Apple's iTunes marketing team and iTunes engeering team, respectively.
But when will this new revamped iTunes debut? With Apple expected to hold a big product event in early March, there's a good chance fans could witness the unveiling of a new iPad, a new version of iTunes and the App Store, and possibly even a Microsoft Office app for the iPad, all at one event.
Apple has not scheduled an event date yet for its iPad unveiling, but Apple fans are keeping their eyes fixed on March 7, the release date reported by iMore's Rene Ritchie, who cited sources who have been reliable in the past. Ritchie has a solid track record for accurate reporting, particularly with Apple news and release dates. Last August, Ritchie correctly reported Apple's next iPhone would be unveiled in the first week of October and would be called iPhone 4S. At the time, all others called the speculative device the iPhone 5.
Ritchie's latest report coincides with previous reports, including AllThingsD's Feb. 9 report that said Apple would launch its next iPad in the first week of March. AllThingsD's John Paczkowski added that the Cupertino, Calif.-based company had chosen San Francisco for the unveiling, presumably at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, Apple's preferred location for big events like these. If Apple holds true to tradition, it will begin selling the iPad 3 roughly a week or so after the unveiling.
The iPad 3 is said to feature an improved camera, a bigger battery, and a dual-LED backlit system to power the 2048 x 1536 display. The dual-LED solution makes the iPad's screen noticeably brighter, but it also apparently solved several puzzling issues with heat dissipation and battery consumption.
As far as the tablet's shape and size are concerned, leaked images of the shell reveal the iPad 3 will have an identical form factor to the iPad 2, although it will apparently be about 1 mm thicker to accommodate the bigger battery, dual-LED system, and LTE.
That's right, LTE. The Wall Street Journal reported that AT&T and Verizon Wireless are both preparing for Apple's launch, which will affect both companies' 4G networks.If this report turns out to be true, the iPad 3 will be the first Apple device compatible with LTE's high-speed network.
Apple hoped to feature LTE in the iPhone 4S, but due to its short battery life, CEO Tim Cook said LTE was nixed from the smartphone because first generation LTE chipsets force a lot of design compromises. That reportedly changed in December, when reports surfaced that Qualcomm had developed a new, thinner LTE chipset considerably smaller than current LTE chipsets. The new chip was originally expected to debut in the second or third quarter but it looks as if Apple hastened the process so LTE is included in time for its next iPad.
The iPad 3 will reportedly be powered by a new A5X chip, which could be either a dual-core or quad-core processor. Code discovered Code discovered within the device revealed the model number S5L8945X; for reference, Apple's A4 model number was S5L8930X, and the A5 chip was S5L8940X. The S5L8945X chip is likely a step between a high-end dual-core processor and a low-end quad-core processor.
An unnamed source who claimed to be in possession of the iPad 3 also said Apple has built two different versions of the device, including a tablet that only uses Wi-Fi and one that is capable of Wi-Fi, embedded GSM and CDMA, and global LTE connections. The unnamed source procured the data using a development and debugging tool on the tablet called iBoot, which revealed model numbers J1 and J2, which had confirmed earlier reports that Apple's next-gen tablets would be codenamed J1 and J2. Those reports said the J2 model would be a more ambitious upgrade from the iPad 2 compared to the J1, and LTE is certainly ambitious.
Apple has also reportedly upgraded its front and rear cameras for better Facetime and pictures. This is no surprise -- the camera system on the iPad 2 is now considered low-end, given that it only records up to 720p HD and requires tapping to focus. Assuming Apple outfitted the iPad 3 to shoot stills and video like the iPhone 4S, expect autofocus, video stabilization and full 1080p HD video recording.
Thus far, 1080p HD content has largely eluded users of Apple products, with HD versions of videos on the company's digital download service maxing out 720p (1280 x 720) and chief executive Steve Jobs balking at adoption of Blu-ray on Macs due to licensing complications and other challenges that he said threatened to translate into a 'bag of hurt.' But that could begin to change later this year, as a handful of feature films being submitted to the iTunes Store for a release in the September and October timeframe are being sent with documentation for an optional 1920 x 1080 resolution, according to people familiar with the matter.
Apple is expected to launch a new version of its operating system, iOS 5.1, along with the iPad 3. If this is true, iOS 5.1 could offer support for 1080p HD videos. If this is the case, the update would also apply to the Apple TV device, which currently maxes out at 720p HD. In this way, users could start watching full HD videos on their Apple TVs, Mac computers and new iPads starting in early March.
With a forthcoming release of a new iPad and a new mobile operating system, there's a great chance iTunes and the App Store will also get an upgrade at the same time. Apple will need iTunes to support 1080p HD quality movies, and instead of releasing a minor update to introduce full HD, the company might as well release the entirely new version of iTunes to sync with iOS 5.1. The only way that might not happen is if Apple feels the iTunes Store and App Store aren't ready yet; after all, Chomp's team and tech was only just acquired.
Once the new iTunes is released, Chomp's technology will help users navigate the massive iTunes and App Stores and make the experience of buying and enjoying apps even more insanely great.