Friday, December 9, 2011

Oink vs. Nosh; Which is best for a smartphone foodie?

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Summary: There are a couple of new services designed to help you find the best food when you are at a restaurant. Both come from new startup companies and are available for iOS.

Using the GPS location and social networking functionality in smartphones is leading to innovate applications and services to help out your fellow human being. Two new services, currently both running on iOS, created from startup companies are now available to help you find the best food to eat and drink to consume. Nosh and Oink integrate social networking and an awards system to encourage you to participate too. You can check out several screenshots from both applications in my image gallery.

Nosh launched a couple of months ago from Craig Walker’s Firespotter Labs, who brought us GrandCentral (now Google Voice), and is available on both Android and iOS platforms. Nosh is fun and easy to use with a focus on restaurant food and drinks. The folks at Nosh gather real menus from around the world and import them into their database so you can find a place in the application and then select items to share with others from the list of the actual menu. You can take a photo, write some comments, and rate the specific food item on a 5 star basis.

You can view your statistics, manage your profile, find friends, and more right from their web page too. On your iOS or Android device you can choose to view the feed of nearby locations to see what people recommend are best for you to try. You can also view Nosh posts for those you are following, featured items, and the latest posts.

You can search for places if they don’t show up in the default list and even add a place if it is not found in their database. You can add menu items too if they are not in the database. You can check out a promotion video below.

Nosh: Three Dinners from Firespotter Labs on Vimeo.

As TechCrunch posted Oink just launched yesterday and is currently available via invite-only. This is the first service/application to launch from Kevin Rose’s new Milk company.

You can download the free iOS app and then fill out a form to be added to the service as they make invitations available. After signing up, I was given an invite within a couple hours. So far Oink seems to be a bit of a processor and network hog and is a bit slow to respond at times. The application is well designed with easy buttons along the bottom to jump between following, discover, Oink, fred, and your profile.

When you select the discover button you will see a list of things people are liking with options for popular, places (local to you), and live. You can also earn “cred” by using the Oink Builder to share things. Unfortunately, I see that people are including websites, apps, movies, actions (getting up at the crack of dawn), devices and more so it is already getting away from being a foodie application.

Both services are young and as users join and participate we will see where they go, but so far I would have to recommend you focus on Nosh for true sharing and discovery of food at restaurants you visit. Plus, Nosh is available on both iOS and Android where Oink is reported to be coming sometime in the future to Android. As I said, Oink is already taking off in liking and disliking other areas and losing focus, but maybe people will want to earn street cred.

Matthew Miller started using a Pilot 1000 in 1997 and has been writing news, reviews, and opinion pieces ever since.

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