When Gilt Groupe reached out to tell TechCrunch about their brand new iPad app for their Gilt Taste vertical, we were suitably skeptical over whether it was really necessary that we cover it. Gilt is a very exciting company, to be sure — but at this point, another iPad app debut from another super slick shopping site is not exactly newsworthy. But it turns out that the launch of Gilt Taste for the iPad is absolutely news that a lot of people can use.
Now, I feel compelled to issue a warning here that all the problems solved by the Gilt Taste iPad app are ones unique to the first world. From now on, though, can we all agree to a moratorium on using the increasingly hackneyed phrase “first world problems,” at least for a little while? It’s just getting to be annoying. But I digress.
The Perils Of Cooking With The iPad
So, picture this. You’re in the kitchen, attempting to cook a meal because you’re trying to fulfill your New Year’s resolution of becoming an adult with a somewhat balanced life and interests beyond surfing the Internet, working, going to bars, and eating burritos. It turns out you can’t quite escape the surfing the Internet thing completely, because so many great recipes and cooking tips are now online. But you’re doing your best.
The iPad has certainly made it easier to cook while using a web-based recipe (a little less gunk in your laptop keyboard) but there’s still always that moment when your hands are covered in foodstuffs, you look frantically to the iPad to find out what you’re supposed to do next, and the darn screen has gone to idle mode. Or it’s focused on the wrong part of the page, and you need to scroll down.
Sayonara, Smudgy Screen
The folks behind Gilt Taste for iPad completely feel your pain. So they built their app with something called “Touch-Free Recipe Mode.” When you switch on Touch-Free Recipe Mode, the screen will remain active and awake while you’re cooking, based on each recipe’s length. Also, while you’re in Touch-Free Recipe Mode, each step of the recipe you’re following is designed to fit within one single screen. And here’s the coolest part: Waving a hand across the iPad camera will turn the page to the next step.
Former TechCruncher Erick Schonfeld heard that this was coming more than a year ago, and it’s really cool to see that it is finally here.
And as has come to be expected with all things Gilt, the Gilt Taste for iPad app has a really visually pleasing design, offers lots of hard-to-find products in its shop, and contains in-depth and intelligent editorial features (you’ll have that when Ruth Reichl is heading up your product.) But the functional aspect of it is why it could really take off — it’s not just another simple web-to-iPad migration at all.
Utility First, Beauty Later
“Don’t make something unless it is both necessary and useful; but if it is both necessary and useful, don’t hesitate to make it beautiful.”
The Shakers are widely renowned for their furniture, of course, not their iPad apps. But it’s great to see more tech products that follow that same line of thinking — an emphasis on the necessary and useful before the beauty.