Epicurious Brings Cooking Instructions To The Apple Watch With New Smart Timer App

What will recipes look like on the Apple Watch? I’m not sure, but Condé Nast-owned cooking website Epicurious has taken a stab at figuring it out.

Eric Gillin, who became the site’s editorial director last fall, demonstrated a new Smart Timer app for me earlier this month (sadly, he had to do the demo sans Watch). Just as The New York Times plans to deliver one-sentence news stories, Gillin said his team had to rethink how to present their content on a smaller screen: “Recipes are long, dude.”

So what’s a Smart Timer? Basically, it’s a set of simple, time-based cooking instructions for relatively straightforward tasks — it’s less about fancy recipes, more about “Wait, what’s the best way to cook broccoli?”

For example, if you’re grilling a steak, you can watch the Timer count down until you need to flip the meat, and then it’ll count down again until the meat is done. Since the exact timing can differ from kitchen to kitchen, the app also comes with photos and instructions that help you figure out when everything’s properly cooked.

“For me, the thing that’s great about it is that when you’re cooking, you don’t want to fuss around with opening your phone,” Gillin said. So with the Smart Timer, “It’s all right here in really quick glances. In two or three seconds, you can get the information you need.”

Epicurious says the app covers 43 ingredients at launch, including five cuts of steak, 17 vegetables, six seafood options, and 11 options for chicken and pork. Like all Apple Watch apps, the Smart Timer needs to be paired with an iPhone/iPad app, in this case the existing Epicurious Recipe Box and Shopping List. (In fact, if you don’t have an Apple Watch, you’ll be able to use the Timer on your phone.)

Gillin sounded particularly proud of the Epicurious team for putting the app together in a sprint after the February launch of a redesigned site.

“We shot all of the imagery, which gives it a really cohesive feel,” he added. He also talked about experimenting with different levels of background smoke effects — I’ll spare you the details, but that should give you some sense of how Gillin and his team paid attention to the whole experience.