The Future of Apps, Marketing & Wine

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48 hours ago Snooth released their new iPhone app for $4.99 on iTunes.  First impression is this app is a game changer.  Moreover, it represents where the future of apps are going in many consumer-facing industries.

The sexiest feature of Snooth's new app is the photo recognition of wine labels.  And really, this alone is what makes it a game changer.  Up until now, the hot feature in apps was QR codes, or or UPC code recognition found in RedLaser's app.  I've always thought QR codes were like visual spam.  Imagine a world (or retail environment) where a bunch of products all have QR codes within one space—it's visually distracting.  QR codes are the gateway drug to the REAL use of mobile technology: photo recognition.

Photo recognition isn't just limited to the wine industry.  Within months you're going to see photo recognition showing up in apps for other industries, from tires to fashion and everywhere in between.  Google Goggles was one of the first photo recognition tools where the user simply takes a photo of a product, and the phone goes to fetch any and all data related to the product.  What I like about the Snooth Pro app is Snooth solved the difficult problem of how to sort out all the various ways a product can be listed.  If you're looking for 2007 St. Supéry Sauvignon Blanc (discl: my employer), Snooth gives you a few choices to verify you've selected the correct vintage:

Snooth already has a rich database full of neatly organized wine data.  This app gets out of the way and lets the user quickly identify the wine they're drinking by using photo recognition in a painless way while at the same time making it possible for the user to tag a photo to match their database.  The true power of hand held devices lies in the ability for the user to quickly identify the product with minimal input, but get back a bunch of useful data from the "cloud".

Snooth took it a step further.  They built in another game changing feature that could be an app by itself.  In fact, the new grappos.com iPhone app does just that.  The 'wine finder' technology is also helpful as it lets the user see where they can find the identified wine around them.

Snooth has raised the bar with next generation technology, but it wouldn't be useful if there wasn't a balance of form and function.  Good design is still critical to a successful app.  Snooth not only adds new functionality, but they also have a history of clean design.  This Snooth Pro app is well thought out.  From a purely design perspective, the UX (user experience) is very pleasant and easy to navigate.  For $4.99 this app is a steal considering how much "new stuff" there is in it.

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Bacon and Timetravel

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Bacon.  Just close your eyes and picture some slow-cooked crisp, savory bacon.  Mmm-mmm.  If I could invent one thing, it would be an alarm clock that emits the smell of cooking bacon when it's time to get up.  That's because I love bacon.  No, I mean I LOOOOOVE bacon.  My doctor wishes I didn't love bacon so much.  You want to know how much I love bacon?  On @wefollow, I'm the #1 bacon tweeter on all of Twitter.  That's not just loving bacon, that's a frickin' commitment.  Upon my last visit to the doctor, he did a lipid profile and was shocked at the results.

After looking at my family history, I found out my last name, Bakas, is actuallly related to the Greek God of swine called Bakos.  You might not know about Bakos, but that's probably because he died of coronary disease at an early age.  Thankfully, there's turkey bacon.  But not all turkey bacons are created the same.  Oscar Meyer brand turkey bacon gets a green check.  Jenny-O brand turkey bacon tastes good, but is expensive.  But it still gets a green check mark.  Butterball tastes pretty good for turkey bacon.  Whole Foods turkey bacon smells and tastes terrible.  It gets a FAIL.

picture-1But there's more...so much more to bacon you might not know.  Throughout time, both past and present bacon has been a key piece of history.  For example, in the future, members of the Starship Enterprise had a terrible episode where everyone on board, including Captain Kirk, thought they were eating bacon but it was actually Tribble meat.  Tribble meat is highly toxic and can cause explosive diarrhea.

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Luckily, Spock showed some reason and packed a ton of Pepto.  The last thing you want, even in the future, is to be thousands of lightyears away from civilization and have a bad case of the runs.  Had the order not been mixed up, bacon would have been packed on board the Enterprise and the crisis would have been averted.  Are you starting to get the importance of bacon in history?  Let me put it in VC terms for all the investors out there:

picture-31You don't want that.  There's got a be a balance.  If you plan of having a future, you have to tenor bacon vs. turkey bacon intake.  There's other kinds of bacon you might not consider when thinking about what to eat.  There's actually some decent choices out there.  There's pancetta, Irish Bacon, Canadian Bacon, Turkey Bacon, Fakin' faux bacon made from recycled dogshit and a few others I can't even think of, but they probably come on a pizza somewhere in Europe.  There's a cool thing that happens when you combine various types of bacon.  It's somewhat like when the lions come together and form Voltron, voltronexcept for combining to form a stellar giant robot with a giant sword that he pulls out of Lord-knows-where, you get something more like this:

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Speaking of time travel.  Let's go back in time to two months ago when President Obama was trying to get Congress to pass the massive stimulus package.  Remember what the biggest critisism of the stimulus package was?  Too much pork.  That's right...too much pork.  I don't think I want to live in a world where there's such a thing as too much pork.  I told my wife to pack up the pets 'cause we're moving to Australia.  The only problem is bacon in Australia is more like Canadian bacon...there's no such thing as the bacon we know and love in America.  That might be part of the reason Australians live longer.

This whole bacon conversation started to take off on Twitter.  I started talking about bacon, sending out random tweets into the void like a prisoner in isolation babbling to myself.  For weeks it seemed my bacon tweetage was falling on deaf ears.  Then one day @tekee took the bait and tweeted back.  Then @thepicman, @winebratsf and @pugofwar... Then @kveton joined the fray and all hell broke loose--we were like the Brady Bunch, but more like the Bacon Bunch.  Now there are literally hundreds of tweeters who are down to talk about bacon any time of day.

My greatest discovery came on January 30, 2009.  Through a series of unlikely events, I was eating bacon while watching Wizard of Oz and listening to Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon.  When I did that I was able to free myself from the Matrix.

picture-21Be careful when you try this.  Make sure you're wearing a helmet....a helmet made of bacon.  As for travelling through time, I don't know about the future, but I do know the oldest woman in the world credits her longevity to bacon.  Now that's a ringing endorsment.

If you found this article useful, look under the categories and check out some of the bacon-related info I've got like the Bacon Smoothie recipe.  It's good, but gasey.  I'll continue to add useful bacon stuff here.  Please leave a comment and/or subscribe to my feed.  I'm on Twitter at @rickbakas.  Thanks for stopping by.  Cheers!

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Scallops with Strawberry & Saffron Cream Sauce Pour Quatre

Serves 4 people A quick and easy crowd pleaser.  The strawberries and saffron provide a subtle hint of sweet and sour flavor.  With a heavier cream sauce, a white wine with enough acidity is required to “cut through” the heavy cream.  Without enough acidity, the flavor of the wine will not stand up to the dish. Spann wines have impeccable balance in all their wines.  The Chardonnay/Viognier from the 2006 vintage shows interesting depth of nuances.  Tropical aromas and flavors such as lychee, mango and passion fruit will compliment the strawberry and saffron notes.

INGREDIENTS 8 scallops (large and preferably unfrozen) 4 TBSP butter ½ pint of cream 1/8 TSP. crushed red pepper flakes 2 TBSP. White Wine 1-2 cloves garlic shaved or finely chopped 4 large strawberries sliced pinch of saffron salt to taste toast points (small pieces of bread lightly toasted; not crunchy)

In a small pan mix cream, strawberries, saffron, garlic, wine and salt to taste.  Cook over low heat for 15 minutes.

In a medium pan melt butter over medium heat.  Sautée scallops over medium heat in butter until carmelized, about 3-5 minutes each side depending on size.

Serve scallops sitting on cream sauce and garnish with toast points.

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