Cookmate is the winner app in the Entertainment category in the "App Star Awards". They deserve a big round of applause! If you watched the event live (catch up here), you can see that Robert Scoble had good words about it:"This is cooking for lazy geeks". The app is brought by Robin Raszka, Petr Reichl and David Smehlik, three Czech developers has made it to the top, beating the also promising runner up ISSUU mobile.
I had the change to beta test Cookmate and I haven't used the final version that is supposed to debut in the AppStore shortly. The apps tagline is "Biggest Innovation to Modern Cooking", and I've been curious enough to play with it for a while and write up a review for the blog.
Cookmate is a cooking app that allows you to find recipes based on the ingredients you already have at home. The app uses the shelf interface similar to Classics, the wooden shelf view popularized by Delicious Library.
It is a wooden shelf but I prefer to think of it as a fridge. In this pantry screen, you select the ingredients that you have at home. Or perhaps, just the fresh ingredients that are going to expire and need to be cooked today. Or maybe some item you found at the market at a good price and don't know what to cook with it.
The categories are easy to spot and I have to say that using this interface was more a hit than a miss. The whole thing slides, so perhaps this could be a way to add more items in future updates. You might doubt where some ingredient might be placed, but at the end of the day I know where the important ones are. There is no option to select your favorites or recents, though.
Once you have chosen what ingredients you want to cook, the app can search within its recipe library and suggest recipes containing those ingredients. Simple but effective. Cooking lovers like me will appreciate this, and it is Cookmate's killer feature. Instead of cooking the same recipes over and over, Cookmate can help any cooking lover to discover new ones. This is much faster than looking in cookbooks or online, and what is better, you can take this information with you to the supermarket.
The groceries screen is a list of the ingredients you need to buy. Once you select a recipe, Cookmate will work out what ingredients you are missing to add them to the shopping list. This seems like a good innovation, you won't forget the garlic again!
The recipes are displayed nicely and the list view gives you the approximate preparation time, which is handy to choose recipe to cook. However, Cookmate doesn't mention the source of the recipe or if it's their original creation. That is something I like to have, so I can remember it in the future as "that Jamie Oliver's linguine recipe".
When I look for recipes online for the same dish, I like to compare the small differences between them. The issue that I disliked most is the fact that some recipes included in the beta are a bit too simplistic: Take the "Black Bean Quesadilla", for example: It lists as ingredients salsa and guacamole. It doesn't tell you how to prepare them from scratch, which could be interesting for a cooking fan. If you don't want to cook from scratch, then you can always choose a prepared guacamole. Most of the cooking books will send you to a separate guacamole recipe. The ingredient list should include in this case avocados and not "prepared guacamole". In the version I used, the same went for pesto, sauces, broths and seasoning mixes. I've talked with the dev about it and they are willing to improve this aspect via updates.
The app will come with a selection of 100 US and 100 Czech recipes. There will be more downloadable content as in app purchase. New recipe packs will be focused in national cuisine and will contain 100 recipes (these are still waiting for approval). I reckon this will be a cool feature if it includes famous chefs recipes or from a well known source. The developer has confirmed that they will offer free packs as well as some special offers. Think of it as a Tap Revenge shop for cooking.
There is the option to add a picture yourself that other Cookmate and Facebook users will be able to see. I personally like taking pictures to my fancy recipes, and this is something I see myself using. When testing I realized you can upload several pictures, and I just don't know how is this going to work if others upload theirs as well.
About the recipes, I'm missing the possibility to add your own recipes or to even import them. This feature is the killer function in cooking desktop apps, so why not being able to make your own folder of recipes? Not now, but they plan to add this feature in future updates. Cookmate has Facebook support to share the recipes, it can be useful to share my own recipes with my own pictures and comments.
I'm eager to see what the final version has to offer and how the iPhone community welcomes it. Cookmate not only allows you make a shopping list, but to discover new recipes using the ingredients you have at home. They have started well with an App Star Award. The social factor thanks to its facebook integration can be a deal breaker and a solution to easily share recipes with friends. Hopefully the quality of the content will be improved, because they have nailed it with the interface. If you are a lazy geek and Cookmate doesn't get you cooking I don't know what will. If you are a foodie, then you definitely need to check out this one.