App Review: Appetites Cooking App for the iPad


Appetites may change the way cooking apps could be created in the future. Instead of step-by-step photo instructions, the iPad app has video instructions shot from the viewpoint of the cook. A person can make a dish at his or her own pace by scrolling to the next video step, which starts seamlessly with no extra prompting.

Although the app provides an innovative way to teach viewers how to cook 27 recipes, many customers have balked at the extra 99-cent-per-video charge after downloading the actual app. The cost to download the app plus seven videos was free up until recently, but the price went back to $4.99. There are currently 20 videos available.

App creator Nick Alt, of Clear Media, stressed the videos are interactive "cooking classes."

For 99 cents, an Appetites user gets a one-on-one cooking class that's intuitive to use at home," Alt said. "If you took a traditional cooking class, it would cost you a couple hundred dollars and you can only take it once, plus have no real means to record it.

The recipes range from Apple Hand Pies to Guacamole to Korean BBQ, made by six popular food bloggers including Serious Eats' Dinner Tonight columnists Nick Kindelsperger and Blake Royer, of The Paupered Chef. In reviews, many customers agree the app is well-executed and easy to use, but some have not been enthralled with the recipe selection. App creator Alt explained Clear Media plans to roll-out new content every month with one or two of the new classes included for current users of the app. Later on, Alt said he plans to introduce a monthly subscription fee, so customers have access to all videos for a low monthly cost.

The other problem: you don't know what you're getting until you pay for it. For instance, a recipe for a carnitas cemita sandwich offered by Matt Armendariz, of Matt Bites starts with already-stewed pork. Essentially, you pay 99 cents to watch him slice an onion, open an avocado, and assemble a sandwich. Alt tells us that Clear Media looked to the bloggers to pick recipes based on reader's favorites and that the company plans to introduce a new ratings system so popular classes float to the top. Even still at least some reviewers will leave angry after paying 99 cents to watch a sandwich being assembled.

For now, the app remains very recipe-focused rather than instructing people on basic cooking techniques. Since Appetites is free to download, it's better to get it now before the price goes back up. Hopefully some well-needed changes will be implemented as it moves forward.

Update 3/28/2011: With the price going back to $4.99, the videos need to really deliver, considering all the free content there is online.

Appetites (Free to download for a limited time; 7 videos included; 99-cents each for 20 other videos)
Compatible with iPad, which requires iOS 4.2 or later.