Rate the Things You Love With Oink

There are two varieties of social networks: the all-in-one and the niche. The obvious king of the all-in-one social network is Facebook (status updates, messaging, groups, apps, events, etc.), while the king of the niche social network is Twitter (all you do is tweet). At the moment there are only a few all-in-one social networks, but the list of niche social networks is vast and ever growing, over indulging iPhone users with apps that are geared towards socializing in a specific manner.

Our own Kevin Whipps recently reviewed Stamped, a niche social networking app that let’s you share the things you love with friends. Much along the same lines, Kevin Rose (founder of Digg) and his new company (Milk, Inc.) recently released Oink, a social network that allows you to rate and rank the things around you. The twist? You don’t rate the places you love, but the items inside them. So, does Oink deserve a spot on your iPhone? Find out after the jump.

What Exactly is an Oink?

This was the first question I asked myself upon seeing the app in the App Store. An Oink is simply your way of stating your appreciation or non-appreciation for a specific item. While the majority of users tend to Oink about food items, you can Oink about anything, really. Say you love a painting in a museum. Snap a picture from the app and express your level of appreciation for the painting.

The Like feature is synonymous with Facebook, but some users aren’t fond of the shackles of only expressing one level of emotion. Oink tweaked this system extremely well, providing the option to say, “I’m indifferent about that” or “I’m don’t really like that.” Basically, Oinks allows you to express your true feelings about an item.

The Process of Oinking

As of this moment, Oink is invite only, so when you load up the app for the first time, you’ll need to sign up for an invite using your email or Facebook or Twitter account; however, you should receive an invite in a manner of hours. After receiving your invite and logging in, you’re ready to begin Oinking.

While waiting for your invitation, Oink provides some reading material to familarize yourself with the app.

While waiting for your invitation, Oink provides some reading material to familarize yourself with the app.

The process of Oinking involves multiple steps, and is both friendly and frustrating at the same time. When you tap on the off-center Oink tab button, the first step is selecting a location. A list of nearby locations (displayed in a manner very similar to the Foursquare app) will appear for you to choose. You’d think this process of listing locations would be simple enough, but there are moments in which Oink will display the same location multiple times.

Who says you can't have six Chipotles located right next to each other?

Who says you can't have six Chipotles located right next to each other?

Once you’ve carefully selected the correct location, you’ll transition into the Items page, which displays all previous Oinks you’ve made at that location. To add a new Oink, tap the +New button at the top right. Doing so will provide an option to name the item you wish to Oink about. In addition, you’ll need to provide a tag. Tags should be a basic keyword that describes the item you’re Oinking. For instance, I Oinked about a Steak Burrito from Chipotle and used the tags “food” and “burrito.” The usage of tags goes into building your Cred (which I’ll get to later), so use them wisely.

You can add as many tags as you like to an item.

You can add as many tags as you like to an item.

Next, you’ll be prompted to capture a photo about your selected item (you may also load a photo from your album). Oink provides a few rudimentary filters to enhance your photo, but the options are nowhere near as engaging as those found in Instagram. Once you’re all set with your photo, tap the Save button and you’ll move on to the next step (the photo will also save to the Photos app).

If you want to give your photo a little more life, I recommend snapping a photo and editing it another app.

If you want to give your photo a little more life, I recommend snapping a photo and editing it another app.

Finally, rate your level of enjoyment of the item, ranging from love, like, indifferent and dislike. When you make your selection, Oink will prompt you to write a review or post a comment, and provide options to post your Oink on Facebook, Twitter or Foursquare (this only applies if you added a location with your Oink).

Once you've mark your level of adoration for the item you'r Oinked, take a minute to write a review or comment.

Once you've mark your level of adoration for the item you'r Oinked, take a minute to write a review or comment.

Building Cred

A major part of the Oink experience is building Cred, which are points you receive when you Oink, photograph or review anything that you’ve tagged. Every user may choose up to ten tags (e.g. pizza, sushi, art) and your goal is to level up by posting content under a tag (you max out at level eleven).

The main Cred page shows your current Levels. Tapping a tag will take you to a secondary page that shows you all the Oinks you've posted under said tag.

The main Cred page shows your current Levels. Tapping a tag will take you to a secondary page that shows you all the Oinks you've posted under said tag.

Discovering New Items

While building Cred is nice and all, I find one of the major draws of Oink if finding out new items to try. In addition to recommendations posted by the folks you follow, Oink also offers a pretty decent discovery tool, which is accessed by tapping the Discover tab button.

The Discovery feature is a major strong point of Oink.

The Discovery feature is a major strong point of Oink.

You have to option to discover new thing by searching for item or places, but keeping with the Oink’s intentions, I typically search for new items to try. When you’ve selected a tag, a second screen will list out items that have been Oinked previously under said tag. Items are listed in the order of rank, which means items that have received the most positive votes and reviews will be number one on the list.

My steak burrito Oink is ranked number one in my area. You my permission to be impressed.

My steak burrito Oink is ranked number one in my area. You my permission to be impressed.

Oink vs. Stamped

As I mentioned in the introduction, Oink and Stamped are two apps that share a major similarity — they’re both designed to help you share items with others. But this is where the similarities end. The idea beyond Cred in Oink is fun, but in the end there’s nothing at stake if you Oink too much. It doesn’t matter what item you Oink or how much thought you put behind your review, you earn Cred regardless. On the other hand, Stamped is dependant upon social interaction. You start out with 100 stamps and if you stamp 100 items, but don’t receive any feedback from a friend, your fun is over.

Oink, however, does outshine Stamped in terms of overall experience and feature richness. While sharing things you like is essential, the point of both apps is to learn about and try new things. This is where I believe Oink one-ups Stamped. When I view my Feed on Stamped, I’m inundated with a list of items that are displayed as text. Sure, if I see Tommy Boy (or something similar) listed, I may take a moment to post a comment or re-stamp, but I’m not engaged by what’s being shown. The feed from Oink grabs my attention with beautiful images, and I’m able to see reviews and replies without needing to tap on the item.

Should I Sign-Up for Oink?

Oink is an app that’s very much in it’s early stages and will continue to grow, as long as iPhone users adopt the app and actually use it. However, the app has received a few updates (currently 1.0.2) and I still run into frequent connectivity issues in which I’m nearly finished with an Oink and as I’m posting, the app freaks out and I lose all my progress. Additionally, there’s no way in which to edit or delete an Oink (you can delete reviews or comments, though), which can be troublesome at times.

Anyone that’s interested to sharing things should definitely give Oink a go, despite some obvious wrinkles that need to be ironed out. If you do, feel free to look me up — @virgil.


Summary

Oink is the go-to social network app to rate and rank the items you love or hate.

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