Déjà vu: finding existing apps similar to ours

We went hunting for existing apps similar to our app idea. We look at how they are different from our app idea and which neat ideas we could use in our app.

With millions of apps on the various app markets, it’s hard to come up with an app idea that hasn’t been done before. Some may find it frustrating when they find out that their brilliant app idea is not as original as they thought it would be. On the other hand, looking at existing apps can help to further refine your own app idea: it may not be completely original, but it can still be different in many interesting ways. And perhaps most importantly: you can steal some good ideas to use in your own app, or as Pablo Picasso would put it:

“Good artists copy, great artists steal.”

Therefore, we opened up the App Store and Google Play and started looking for other apps with features such as:

  • manage your fridge contents
  • search for (recipes of) meals
  • match your fridge with other fridges in order to make a meal together

Fridge Pal (iOS)

Fridge Pal is a beautifully crafted all-in-one fridge manager. It allows you to add items to your fridge (either by scanning their barcodes or by entering them manually) and find recipes with those items. It tracks their expiry dates and warns you when an item is about to expire. It plans your weekly menu according to those expiry dates. It creates shopping lists for all the stores you visit based on consumed or expired items. It even warns you when you physically leave the store and forgot an item on your shopping list!

We were amazed by how many awesome features this app provides for fridge management. It aims to do pretty much everything automatically with automatic shopping lists, week menus and reminders. However, it’s quite different from our app: it’s not social, there’s still just one user who needs to manage his fridge and cook meals by himself. We are not aiming to make a full-blown fridge manager with expiry dates and shopping lists, just the list of items in the fridge will do for us. Nevertheless, it’s interesting to see how advanced a fridge manager can be made.

GroceryHero (Android)

GroceryHero is a somewhat less advanced version of Fridge Pal. It also manages your fridge, searches for recipes and tracks expiry dates but it doesn’t help you with your shopping lists or menu planning.

The app is pretty straightforward: add a few items, select some and search for recipes. Its feature set is closer to ours: a minimal amount of fridge management options, just enough to allow searching for recipes. Again, it’s not very social: the most social activity in the whole app is tweeting about your chosen recipe. Its user interface doesn’t look very attractive tough and looks even a bit outdated, we’ll try to do a better job for our app.

Evaluation

We found a truckload of fridge manager apps and recipe apps. However, most of them were focused on searching for recipes, making shopping lists and/or tracking expiry dates. We couldn’t find any app which aims to connect users and motivate them to cook together. This could mean two things: either nobody has ever made an app to do that (meaning that we have a truly original idea), or all previous apps that did this have failed miserably (meaning that nobody wants to use such an app). Let’s hope that the former is the case. 😛

Bonus: What The F**k Should I Make For Dinner (Web)

During our hunt for apps, we stumbled on this beauty and we thought we should at least mention it. It’s f**king simple: when you’re out of inspiration, it gives you a random recipe. It also has separate versions to find vegetarian recipes or alcoholic drinks, if you need it. It’s a nice counter to the fairly deterministic recipe searches of other apps: if you always buy spaghettis, those apps will probably suggest spaghetti bolognaise quite often. Oh, in case you didn’t get that from the name: there’s quite a bit of cursing on that site, so tread carefully!

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7 comments

  1. FridgePal is indeed a full-blown app but I think it’s UI is rather basic, I really think you can do better ;). BTW: awesome bonus! 😀

  2. It is indeed handy to have random recipes. When I don’t know what to eat and go looking for inspiration on the web you have so many choices and always lean to the ones you already know and often make. So just random recipes will make me (try) to cook something new.

    1. It’s not our primary focus for the first few iterations, but it’s definitely something we could look into later on. Something like an “I’m Feeling Lucky” button for recipes would be nice. 😛

  3. Wow, I had no idea people need help with managing their fridge.. I always thought expiry dates are just guidelines anyway, if it doesn’t smell, you can still eat it :p

  4. I like to idea to share your fridge with other users! I think it’s a pretty original idea… And if it is already been done once, but failed, you are challenged to do it better!

  5. You’re not going to do something with expiry dates, but are the ingredients you own going to disappear when you’ve gone to such a “dinner date”? Or is it going to be manual? (together with expired items)

    1. I don’t think the user will like to pick an expiry date together with putting something in his fridge.
      If the dinner succeeds, then the used ingredients will dissapear automatically. When the user throws away for example old eggs, then he’ll have to do that also in his app fridge.

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