There are plenty of recipe & cooking related apps on the App Store. With the release of iOS 7, every app developer has been working hard on updating their app so it is in line with the new design language of the OS. A few days ago, we came across a wonderful iPad app that is designed from the ground up to be a fresh, "iOS 7 style" app and one that also takes cues from real life Cookbooks. And Cook sure managed to serve some delicious pixels to us.
On launching the app, the welcome screen consists of multiple high quality photos of delicious looking food stacked on either sides. A big "Welcome" stands up on heavily mashed background of bright colors. The screen is bordered with a thin white line that runs along the screen, same as the stitching on a leather bound book or an outline on a photo frame. But that’s where the metaphor ends. This design language is consistent throughout the App. The developers have tried to make the experience of cooking as real as possible by taking inspiration from real life objects. At the same time, Cook also embraces the iOS 7 design language when it comes to buttons and navigation. Prior to iOS 7, the UI depended heavily on visual cues from life like objects. Now, there are no rounded rectangles with heavy shadows and textures to guide you where to click and how to interact. The buttons in Cook, just like in iOS 7, are flat with crisp, clean and sharp glyphs. The icons don’t catch your eye immediately, so it can be a bit hard to locate them at first. But once you’ve figured it out, it’s smooth sailing from there. This might be the first app I’ve seen that perfectly demonstrates that Skeuomorphism and Modern design can go hand-in-hand, and quite beautifully at that. The Cook App icon is a mixture of bright orange colors, a diagonal gradient, and just enough flatness to make it fit well with other iOS 7 app icons.
You can either register in the app with your email address or log in directly via Facebook. Before you are ready to log in, cook will tell you to either slide up for Setup or slide down to view your Library. This is the only time Cook gives any kind of hints for what is a major part of UI navigation, and with a thin type and a transparent background, they are easy to miss. Once you are in, you’ll be prompted to create a new book. The Cookbook screen is a cleaner version of Cover flow from the iPod Music app of yesteryear, and along the same lines as Paper by 53. On the first ‘Bench’, you’ll find your own books and as you swipe right, you’ll see library of books that Cook has so graciously shared with you. The Cookbook opens up with a life-like animation, but instead of an actual book, you are greeted with a bold title and recipe books that resemble stacked cards.
The Cookbooks demonstrate the layered structure of iOS 7 quite beautifully. A high-res photo sits in the background, on which is the thin white frame I mentioned in the beginning of the review. Above it all floats the text and the stacked cards. As you scroll down, the cards take up the screen, the background fades away and a bright color spreads over the screen making the background barely visible. The actual recipes are laid out in a grid with a picture, description and details like Serves and Prep Time. The detailed recipe screen is largely dominated with text, as one might expect.
Adding a recipe in Cook is as easy as it gets. You can either take a photo or add one from the Gallery, add a short description and then the actual recipe text. The text can be copy-pasted from another source or you can type it in manually. Set the time required for preparation by dragging around a dial and presto! You are done. You can also share these recipes with your Friends and Family, or keep ’em just for yourself. I do wish there was a way to search a public directory of Recipes.
Now you are probably wondering why you really need a recipe app, when you can just use a Notes app or just use Evernote with different tags. Sure, it works but the experience is no where near as intuitive or beautiful as the one Cook offers. The attention to detail, the layered approach and the blend of Skeuomorphism and Modern Design in Cook shows that it has something lot of other apps don’t — a heart. Cook for iPad is available Free on the App Store.