Find Food and Other Things You Love on Oink

For some people eating out is about the ambiance, the time spent with friends, the freshly pressed napkins, and not having to clean up the dishes after the meal. But for others, it's all about the food. Oink is an iPhone app that lets foodies discover and rate their favorite dishes at different eateries. At least that's what it looked like at first glance.

For some people eating out is about the ambiance, the time spent with friends, the freshly pressed napkins, and not having to clean up the dishes after the meal. But for others, it’s all about the food. Oink is an iPhone app that lets foodies discover and rate their favorite dishes at different eateries.

At least that’s what it looked like at first glance. A spin on Yelp and other rate-it sites, Oink is for finding individual items within a restaurant rather than the restaurant itself. Looking for the best slice of pizza within a mile radius is as simple as choosing pizza from a list of categories and seeing what’s nearby. And very much like Yelp, the application has uses beyond just food. Since the site launched three months ago users have posted all kinds of things, like a picture of a beer list with a note about the great selection. Another snapped a picture of a friend sitting in a cafe and rated her instead of the lattes.

This is the mark of a good app. It’s important to know what the tool is really for, but should a user come up with something more fun to do with it, why not let them run with it? Sales of pitted olives and paper coffee filters must have skyrocketed the day that children discovered their alternate uses as fingernails and hats.

Play is very much at the heart of the application. The users earn “cred” points every time they discover, or “oink,” something new if they also write a review and photograph the item. The longer the app is around, the richer the menu-surfing will be with detailed descriptions and photographs of food for people whose menus don’t already come with pictures. The ephemeral nature of menu offerings makes it even more appealing to be able to see, in real time, whether anyone has posted about a special.

There is also a live feed that shows what other users are oinking about in other parts of the world, which isn’t always practical for the purposes of finding what’s for dinner, but it could be useful for discovering trends.

Oink is the brainchild of the mobile app company Milk, which was founded by Kevin Rose, Jeff Hodsdon, and Daniel Burka. The app got an update in December 2011, but unfortunately it’s still only available on iOS devices, which include the iPhone, the iPod touch, and the iPad. “If the app continues to gain traction and the stats continue to stay positive (ie. people are enjoying the app and coming back) then we’ll kick off android development asap,” wrote an Oink representative on YouTube in response to multiple comments posted about the demo. “The great news is that our existing team has android experience, so we could move on this quickly when we make that call.”

Image by margouillat photo via Shutterstock.