Since it was mentioned on the Today Show in October, Yummly has been in the spotlight as an app to watch. I’m always skeptical about crowd-sourced recipe apps, but this one got my attention with its smart search capabilities. Yummly connects users with a vast amount of recipes from sites across the web, but what’s more, the app learns your tastes as you use it, providing you with more personalized search results over time.
Is Yummly the most powerful recipe app on the planet, or just another average recipe app? Keep reading to find out.
I launched the app and jumped right in to the virtual tour. From the very start I felt butterflies — this app is different, it’s exciting and it’s going to totally disrupt the way you cook with your iPhone. The tour is sleek, sexy and beautifully designed. With just a few words, the team at Yummly explained exactly what this app does and I couldn’t wait to get started. A smart app that knows what I like and tailors search results to my individual tastes? Yes please.
Yummly allows users to browse recipes freely, but in order to save recipes, use the shopping list and get personalized recommendations I had to sign in with either Facebook or Google. By now you probably know that this is my pet peeve, as I am a Twitter person, but at least they offer an alternative to Facebook with the Gooogle option. The app is automatically set to post to your Facebook account, so you’ve got to manage that in Settings.
The home screen is simple and uncluttered, dedicating most of the screen real estate to a single appetizing food photo. This is smart because images are everything and being able to appreciate one beautiful image at a time is more engaging than a screen filled with tiny thumbnail photos. As I swiped through the recommended recipes I noticed many familiar names from blogs and popular cooking websites: David Lebovitz, The Kitchn, Martha Stewart, The Pioneer Woman. Smitten Kitchen, the list goes on.
Casually browsing recipes isn’t really the point, as this app is all about the smart search. Yummly wants to get to know you. It needs information to fulfill its mission to “be the world’s largest, most powerful and most helpful food app.” Sounds a bit creepy, I know, but that’s where this mobile world is headed, folks.
So, I got searching. The search function seemed very simple at first, as I typed in my term, “chestnut,” which revealed 625 results. Intuitively, I tapped the funnel icon and a whole array of filters appeared. The main filter categories are Preferences, Prep Time, Cuisines, Courses, Nutrition, Tastes and Techniques.
Preferences is where the smart search comes into play and the app learns my personal tastes. I tell the app my Dislikes and it omits recipes containing those ingredients (genius!). I can also let the app know about allergies or dietary restrictions. I love the level of detail the Yummly goes into—are you Sesame-Free, Soy-Free, Sulfite-Free? They have you covered!
Other apps give users a few simple options for narrowing search results. I like how Yummly offers a wide variety of options so I can really narrow down my search. For example, the Cuisines section offers 25 filters. They go beyond the usual Italian, French, American, Mexican and Asian filters to include Swedish, Thai, Hungarian, Cuban and more.
Calorie counters will love the Nutrition section for setting calories per serving and managing carbs, fat and cholesterol. You can even manage flavor levels like salty, sweet, biter, spicy and more, but it’s hard for me to see how helpful that really is in filtering search results. I see the value in “spicy” but the rest just seem to have taken a good thing too far overboard.
I appreciate the immersive quality of searching in the app. Recipes updated instantly on the screen as I adjusted filters. I liked the ability to quickly scan dishes and update filters on one screen, with the option of switching to full screen photos for more in depth browsing.
Saved Recipes and Shopping Lists
Saving a recipe is as simple as tapping the Yum button and all the saved recipes are kept in the My Yums section. It would be nice to see a bit of design love to this area for recipe organization. Once you get a few hundred recipes saved in there I don’t know how you would find anything. On the other hand, the Shopping List is beautifully designed and organized. You can even use the bar code scanner to add items to the list and instantly find recipes related to the ingredients you’ve got in the shopping cart.
The app does a nice job of neatly separating recipe content into Ingredients, Nutrition Facts and Directions. The only problem is how the recipe directions are displayed on the iPhone. In this section, Yummly displays content from the webpage that isn’t designed specifically for the app. Sometimes instructions don’t fit on the screen and I had to swipe left and right to read the whole sentences. Sometimes the recipes were cluttered with ads and buttons wanting me to buy, buy, buy!
Yummly is breaking new ground as a recipe app for the future. It’s gorgeous to look at, fun to use and best of all, it’s helpful to home cooks. This new app has been thoughtfully designed to help users with real problems. The smart search that gets to know your preferences and suggests recipes accordingly is a great advancement. A large database of recipes from excellent sources is another strength. Bar code scanning adds convenience. The only problems with Yummly are the inconsistency in how recipe instructions are displayed and lack of recipe organization. Conquer these issues and they may just have the perfect recipe app.