First there was Twitter. Then there was Yelp, and Foursquare. Then came Foodspotting. And Instagram. Social and check-in apps gave us entertainment, and power. We looked for interesting restaurants, showed off the awesome dish we just ate and left a scathing review when our service took too long.
Bub City uses Earshot to listen–not only to who is talking about them but who is nearby and ready for a beer and BBQ. (Photo courtesy Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises)
For many years, the dance of engagement has been skewed towards consumers rather than the dining establishments. Now with Earshot, the intersection between consumers, food and direct marketing just got more interesting. Or at least, more targeted. Customers “within earshot” of a restaurant are identified through any number of social media and geo-tagging channels in real time–the digital equivalent of (or perhaps superior to) outdoor “hosts” urging tourists to come in and order the special.
Earshot, in a nutshell, is a filtering technology that lets restaurants not only see exactly which people are “talking” about them or seeking food that tastes like theirs; it also lets restaurants send greetings and invitations to those people, through the social media channel they use most.
Banner photo © Jasperdo/flickr. Product photos © NoWait
Developer: NoWait, Inc.
Runs on: iPhone, iPad
Cost: Free (premium services available)
Whether a restaurant offers reserved seating or simply places you on a waiting list for first come, first served seating, neither option has scratched the surface of understanding the all-important patron. What does a plastic hockey-puck-looking device that lights up and buzzes know about the person holding it? The field was wide open for a sophisticated communication app that provides vital dining information to the customer, the host and most importantly, the restaurateur. Two decades after the plastic buzzer came along, that app has arrived.
Developer: Arnold & Pearn
It always amazes me how creative apps can be. I’m sure there are 1,000 cocktail apps that can show you how to make a Manhattan, but I have yet to see one that informs the way Clinq does. In short, imagine a how-to cocktail guide created by highly skilled designers, not mixologists or even cookbook writers. That’s the way Clinq felt as I used it. No big descriptions, no complicated navigation, and with the exception of some glassware silhouettes no real imagery. Doesn’t sound like it leaves you much, but the design team at Arnold & Pearn have created their own concoction worthy of the $0.99 tab.My first sip of love for this app appears on the opening screen. It’s a white background with five large, bold words: gin, vodka, whisky, bourbon and rum. I know when I’m sifting through my liquor cabinet that’s the way my brain works (Ooh, I have a little vodka left, what should I make with that?). Of course, there are other really great cocktail apps out there that allow for this same type of filtering, such as FOOD & WINE Cocktails or the 2012 app award winner for Best Spirits, Mixology (formerly Mixologist). But unlike those other apps, the simplicity of the design strips away all the bells and whistles so you can get straight to the point, the same way Google.com has done with their plain-Jane search box page.