Hello Beer Friends Nation! Welcome to 2011, where everyone has a blog, makes 14 tweets a day and "there's an app for that." Recently the Apple App store has been filling up with "craft beer apps" that can do any number of things from find a beer on tap to give you food pairings. This is the first post in the Beer Friends App Reviews that will walk through these apps to find (trumpets) "The Ultimate Beer App!" (end fanfare.)
Ironically the first "app" reviewed isn't an app at all, but gets a huge endorsement from the Beer Friends, so check out Untappd.com! Untappd.com is actually a website built for a mobile device. There are pros and cons to this format, but I believe this is the best "app" out there (so far). Untappd.com is the brain child of Tim Mather and Greg Avola and is "a new way to socially share the brew you're currently enjoying, as well as where you're enjoying it, with your friends!". Basically like a FourSquare for beer drinkers... which is awesome. Now I can drink an awesome Great Divide Yeti, rate it, check in on FourSquare and post on Twitter and Facebook and let the millions (ish) that follow thebeerfriends where to find this divine brew.
It's a mobile website. This has created a lot of debate in the Beer Friends circle. Since it's a mobile website it never needs to download an update - awesome, because sometimes those downloads are annoying if they are too big and you have to connect to a computer, or you're on 3G and AT&T charges you an arm and a leg for your data plan; however, you can't check it out without 3G or wifi, like in the subway (to which I say get out from underground and find a dimly lit bar to drink at - and check in!)
Mobile websites aren't platform specific. Amongst the Beer Friends we have both iPhone and Android users. Sharing apps turns into searching the appropriate app store for hours trying to find some - then the differences between the apps on each device can be drastic causing a lot of yelling, glass throwing and basically a Tuesday night with the Beer Friends. Untappd.com is available on both platforms because both platforms (and others out there) access the internet. Win!
Doesn't take up space on your mobile device. Raise your hand if every year you get excited when Apple offers a free iTouch with purchase of a new computer for "school", me too. Suddenly that year old P.O.S. in the corner looks in need of an upgrade - with iTouch! However, Apple only offers the 8GB iTouch model and by the time you download Angry Birds, Plants vs Zombies and the (legally) ripped movies - Goonies and the latest Star Trek for me - you're out of GB's. Untappd.com just accesses the web so no GB's needed!
Badges. Now I was (and still am) against the weird Social Movement where you tweet a hundred times a day about the long lines getting coffee and the size of that number 2 (I don't tweet, just tell who-ever is in the room), but tweeting/Foursquare check-in's/facebook updates with a purpose is alright by me. Twitter can be a brillant way to update everyone where they can find a delicious brew or what beers are on special at the local store. Badges fall somewhere in the middle, badges can be gained once the user (drinker) achieves something, most of the time unknowingly. But badges can be fun, especially when they are interesting and make you think. I don't care about the 5 American Light Beers badge, but enjoyed getting the HomeBrewer badge (inputting so many new beers into the system - only means I'm finding the rare stuff). I also enjoyed the "Take It Easy" Badge (12 beers in 24 hours) - I was on vacation dammit!
It's a mobile website. While there's no need to download updates - you don't have any idea when badges are added or improvements have been made. Of course when your life is beer I check often enough to recognize these updates.
Mobile Websites aren't Apps. Duh, but if you've played around with an app and then notice the limitations of a mobile site in interactivity it clicks. Oh yeah... this isn't an app. While FourSquare now allows you to take a picture, there's no functionality (yet) on Untappd.com because it would involve uploading to the website, but an App can put everything in a package.
All in all any app or mobile website with social networking as the focus is only as people on it, and as Garth Brooks once said "I've got friends in low places" which I can only assume is bars, and I've got plenty of friends (look mom - 155!) that would like to know what beers I'm drinking and where... or I'd like to think so.