App of the Week – Find New Places to Eat Based on Your Favorite Restaurants With Alfred
On this Saturday’s App of the Week, we’re going mobile and looking at an iPhone app called Alfred. Smartphones should make our lives easier and more productive, but far too often, they just waste our time and make them far more complicated. Fortunately, Alfred avoids that trap and takes full advantage of your always-on mobile Internet connection to keep your taste buds happy! Ever go out with friends and can’t decide where to eat? Or maybe you’re in a new area and have no idea what’s good? If you find yourself in either of these situations, Alfred is just the app for you.
Platform Availability: Compatible with iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad. Requires iOS 4.0 or later. Sorry Android users!
Cost: Like so many of the best things in life, Alfred is absolutely free!
What it is: Think of it as a better version of Urbanspoon. Rather than randomly choosing from a set of restaurants after you filter a lot out based on your input criteria, Alfred helps you pick new places to eat based on places you already like.
What it Does: After firing it up for the first time, just answer the questions it presents you about your favorite places to eat or get drinks. The more time you invest into letting the app know which places you like, the more refined its suggestions will be. When you go into the Teach tab, there will be a progress bar letting you know how “smart” Alfred is; just add your favorite restaurants whenever you have a free moment or try a great new place, as the process can get kind of tedious if you do it all at once. When you want to find a new place to eat, it’s very easy to do so from the intuitive main menu. Just like Urbanspoon, Alfred will spit out recommendations based on Yelp reviews and descriptions, so keep that in mind if you’ve got something against Yelp.
Features: Facebook Integration – Let your friends know where you’re eating and see if they have any recommendations while you’re on the go. Harness he power of social media to further satisfy your taste buds!
Manual Filtering – Normally, Alfred just gives you recommendations based on a category (like lunch, dinner, etc.). If you have more specific criteria for finding your dining options like price or distance, it’s easy to refine Alfred’s search algorithm and narrow your choices down to exactly what you want to see.
Honestly, there’s no other app out there that can do what Alfred does. Yelp is more about user reviews than actual recommendations. While the aforementioned Urbanspoon comes somewhat close, it certainly doesn’t take what you’ve liked in the past into account.
Summary: Tons of apps can guide you on where to eat, but none of them can say that they take your favorite restaurants into account like Alfred can. It’s certainly not perfect – after all these are just recommendations on places it thinks you’ll like. Sometimes, it can be rather foolish and even recommend you to places you’ve already designated as favorites! But most of the time, it does what it’s designed to and guides you to great new restaurants that you’ll like, if not love. Most importantly, it’s free, so give it a shot if what it does sounds even remotely interesting to you.
Have you had any bad experiences with Alfred? Are there any other restaurant recommendation apps that you like? Let us know in the comments!