Today we have a real treat for you in the form of an exclusive sneak peek at the upcoming iPad app, Appetites. We first got a glimpse of the app in action at Macworld Expo last month and I’ve been begging the developers to send me a pre-release copy ever since.
At heart, Appetites is a recipe app. In practice, it’s unlike any recipe app you’ve ever seen and will likely heavily influence this entire genre for the better for years to come. Want to see what all the fuss is about? Let’s take a look.
Within the first few seconds of opening Appetites, you’ll already be impressed. For starters, it’s a beautiful app. The interface features lots of realistic textures like paper and wood and contains lots of really nice subtle touches like letterpressed text and little page curls.
The thing that really gets you though is the seamless integration of video into every aspect of the application. Mind you, this isn’t homegrown cell phone footage but super high quality, absolutely gorgeous video from real professionals. You won’t want to take your eyes off of it.
Update: See It In Action!
Check out the video below to meet some of the bloggers and see Appetites for yourself!
The first screen that you’ll come to is a page containing photos of popular food bloggers. The Appetites folks have rounded up some really talented blogging chefs from several different perspectives and backgrounds so you can enjoy a diverse collection of top-notch recipes.
With blog names like “Brokeass Gourmet” and “Lick my Spoon”, you can tell that these bloggers aren’t exactly Martha Stewart. Instead, they’re real, down to earth people with personalities that you can easily connect with.
Each blogger has his/her own distinct style, both in personality and food, and you’ll be able to pick out your favorites pretty quickly.
The thing that catches your attention on this screen is that, as you’re browsing the thumbnails to choose a blogger, the photos come alive at random. Suddenly, one of the photos isn’t a photo anymore, but a silent video of the blogger looking at the camera. Harry Potter fans will love seeing photos that come to life in a similar manner to those in Rowling’s stories.
Some of the bloggers are a bit awkward and have a sort of “deer in the headlights” vibe, but others really get the idea and goof around as they smile and wave at the camera and urge you to pick them.
If you don’t like browsing by blogger, just tap the “Recipes” button at the top to see a beautiful gallery containing images of each recipe.
Choosing A Recipe
Once you choose a blogger, you’ll be taken to that person’s profile page. From here you can see their name and website along with their available recipes. The app comes pre-loaded with several recipes from each chef, but also provides new recipes to download for $0.99.
Each blogger profile page contains the animated image you saw on the main screen. When you tap this image, the bloggers will tell you all about themselves. You’ll also learn about their websites and cooking style.
As you scroll through their recipes on the right, tap on a recipe to hear more about it from the blogger. From here you can choose to either cook the recipe or purchase it if you don’t currently own it.
Cooking a Recipe
You might be wondering why you would pay for recipes when there are so many free options online. In fact, many of the recipes that you can buy in the app are accessible free on the bloggers’ websites! What you have to realize is that you’re not really purchasing the recipe so much as a one-on-one private tutorial on how to make that recipe. To see what I mean, let’s take a look at a recipe.
Each recipe contains beautiful, large videos of every single step of the process, from ingredients to cooking. These are laid out in a single vertical column, with each step shown as a card lying on the table. Simply swipe up and down to progress back and forth through the steps.
Each of these quick videos (usually less than a minute) outlines a step in the recipe and contains text along the bottom to help guide you along. When you reach a given step, the blogger that you chose will show you exactly how it’s done while they talk you through it. Ingeniously, the video for each step loops infinitely while the audio only plays through once (unless you tap to play again). This allows you to watch the process again and again as you attempt it, without being annoyed by repetitive audio.
The Game Changer
You’ve seen video recipe apps before right? So what’s the big deal here? Aside from the unmatched integration of video throughout the app that I’ve already mentioned, the videos in Appetites are shot from a unique perspective.
The annoying thing about most cooking shows and video recipes is that you spend the nearly entire time looking at the chef when what you really came to see is the food and how it’s prepared. Appetites solves this problem by giving you more of a first-person perspective so it looks like you’re actually the one doing the cooking!
This completely transforms the video recipe experience into something that feels very interactive and straightforward. As soon as you watch your first recipe, you’ll be hooked and will happily spend hours going through the rest.
Getting More Information
If you’re used to the traditional written recipe format, don’t worry. Tap the tab on the left side of the screen to bring up simple written instructions for each step in an easy-to-read list.
There’s also another tab on the right that gives you a quick look at the ingredients you’ll need.
I love to cook, but I’m not necessarily any good at it. One thing that I constantly struggle with is that recipes seem to skim over the trickiest parts. Some crazy enchilada recipe simply shows me the end product and says “wrap them like this”, meanwhile I’m ripping tortillas in half and pulling my hair out trying to figure out how they did that. Other recipes use crazy cooking-only verbs that I don’t remotely understand. “Next, steep the herbs and blanch the almonds”, wait what!? Am I just stupid or are those not real words?
With Appetites for iPad, it’s completely different. Viewing every step in a close-up instructional video really empowers me and makes me feel like I can cook anything they throw at me. Other apps, like the excellent selection from Jamie Oliver, do this to an extent, but not to the degree that you see in Appetites.
This when combined with the awesome video snippets of the bloggers scattered throughout the app in place of boring thumbnails makes this app a no-brainer for foodies with an iPad. I can honestly say this is the best recipe app I’ve ever used and has quickly become one of my favorite apps on the iPad.
To sum up, Appetites for iPad is a remarkably unique attempt to re-design the way we experience recipes, and trust me, the experiment is a success. This was one of those rare apps that is hard to sit down and write a review for because every time you try, you just get lost playing with it.
Appetites truly showcases the potential for the iPad as a sort of magical, futuristic device in a way that I haven’t seen from anything else in the App Store. Even if you never cook a single recipe, it’s worth a download just for the experience.