Thursday, November 10, 2011

Apps vs. Cookbooks

iPad Epi App In Action The New York Times has a trend piece that asks: "Are cookbooks obsolete?" with the advent of a new style of cooking apps (i.e. not just a collection of recipes). The obvious answer being "No, don't be silly" since iPads still cost $500+ and I can get a cookbook for free at the library. Of course we all know that these kind of articles aren't really about any truly widespread change occurring, but about a small slice of early adopters that are excited about the possibilities in the future... and it is clear that there is some innovation going on in the cooking app world. "Baking with Dorie" and all the other apps they mention sound pretty neat, but I'm not sure I really buy the logic in this pronouncement:
Many developers say that recipe animation, either employing stop-frame photography, line drawings or infographics, is the future of digital cooking instruction. Video, on the other hand, while it can be valuable for bringing a personality into the kitchen, has several drawbacks. It is expensive to produce, and eats up precious memory. Because there is so much video in Baking With Dorie, its mere 24 recipes pushed the app to the maximum data size allowed by Apple in the iTunes store. In contrast, the app for “How to Cook Everything,” illustrated only with line drawings, holds 2,000 recipes.
Why on earth do the videos actually need to be contained within the app? A well produced video seems so much more valuable to me than an animated line drawing, and it seems there simply must be an internet (dare I say cloud) based solution to the issue of onboard memory and app size limits. Regardless, despite some strong promise in teaching people how to cook via app... having quick and easy access to technique videos in the kitchen sounds great (I've stopped cooking to look up how to do something on YouTube many many times)... I'm still not planning on ditching my cookbooks any time soon.