Zomato, initially known as Foodiebay, is a project of an Indian team of developers headed by Deepinder Goyal (read about them here). Released for mobile in 2011, Zomato has been making waves in the mobile foodie world recently and all the social media hype had me mildly interested. The Philippine version was only launched this year and is available on Android, iOS, Windows Phone, and Blackberry platforms. I’ve downloaded Zomato on both my Android and iOS devices and have been giving it a test run for a couple of days. From initial assessment, it seems to be one heck of a great app. Here’s why-
When you first open the app, you are asked to connect via Facebook or Google+, or choose to skip that entirely and go directly to the front page. I chose to log in through Facebook, so I can easily keep track of my personal lists. The color scheme is easy on the eyes, with a clean red, black, and white theme and clear icons.
The layout is simple and kind of looks like a blog, with the main page containing a scrolling banner that shows you pictures of popular restaurants near your area, an option to explore or search for restaurants, and quick icons to get to the top 25, restaurant reviews, your favorites, wishlist, and recently viewed restaurants. Navigation is instinctive and snappy, and there should be no problem for regular smartphone users.
Design is nothing without relevant features. With Zomato, all the main features are available to you in the front page, all nicely laid out for you. On the Explore option, you can choose between scrolling through a list of Nearby Restaurants or getting an Instant Recommendation.
You know how when you’re about to have dinner with your friends, and no one wants to decide which place to eat at?
And then you all argue about how no one wants to decide and dinner is almost an unpleasant business? Zomato’s Instant Recommendation restores friendships fixes that, it shuffles through random restaurants near your location and picks one for you. Nothing’s set in stone of course, if you or someone from your party vetoes the choice, then you can shake your phone and it’ll give you another recommendation.
The other features are nice to have too. It has a networking portion where you can follow and be followed by other users. Restaurants are rated and reviewed by fellow users and if you had a place in mind, it would be nice to find out if they have sucky service or a horrible adobo.
What’s just as important as features is the content. What good would a restaurant app be if there was very little relevant data on it? It’s like finding out that the pool only has about a foot high of murky water after dressing up in your new bikini, hauling your goggles, and slathering yourself up with sunblock/tan (depending on your preference). Thankfully, Zomato’s pool is filled with sparkling, chlorinated, and tempered water. Metaphorically, of course.
Quite surprisingly (sorry, pessimist on board), Zomato’s restaurant list is impressive. It is by no means complete, but it lists even obscure restaurants in areas where I tried it. Information on each restaurant is pretty extensive, including phone number/s, address, operating hours, budget, location map, menu, photos, and reviews. It even gives you the option to call directly from the app. Color me impressed.
The best part is that it does not only apply to one country, Zomato is already being widely used by a lotta foodies in a lotta countries (and they’re still expanding!). If you find yourself in, say, India, hungry and cannot find a place to eat at, the app should be able to help you out.
With all its features, ease of use, and extensive data, I would like to conclude that Zomato is the food app that everyone’s been looking for. Or at the very least, I’VE been looking for.
Sure there’s Yelp, but that never really caught on.
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