December 18, 2013

Tastemade: The proverbial 1-inch hole

“People don’t come to us because they want 1-inch drills,” the CEO of Black & Decker is said to have remarked, “They come to us because they want 1-inch holes.”

The beautifully executed app Tastemade (App Store) represents an interesting evolution in creative software. Instead of offering an open-ended toolset for doing any number of projects, it aims to do just one thing well—namely, produce short, highly watchable person-on-the-street reviews of restaurants. The entire interface is built to walk you through making & sharing exactly one kind of content. Through constraint + automation, it tends to quickly produce a very nice “hole” (example).

The app is full of nice design touches. For example:

  • Based on its knowledge of your location & Foursquare data, the app can guess which restaurant you’re visiting, auto-populate the title field, then choose an appropriate font/music combo (which you can then change).
  • You’re prompted to capture a number of shots, and a colored progress indicator helps ensure you shoot enough but not too much.
  • When you go to choose a color look, your existing clips are played back at 2x speed, making it easier to see the impact of the filter on more footage.
  • One of the clips you shoot of the venue is placed behind the title & blurred.

Tastemade

Now, is this particular problem worth solving (i.e. do a lot of people want to record, share, and watch restaurant reviews)? I have no idea. (I’m not allowed out of the house; thanks, kids.) I think, however, that the radically reduced barriers to building & distributing software will keep reshaping the creative-tool landscape, producing more highly focused apps that nicely address one specific need.

Posted by John Nack at 1:15 PM on December 18, 2013

Comments

  • John Stevenson — 7:01 AM on December 19, 2013

    Interesting. Some points:
    1. The app is free (equals no commercial value, as of today at least).

    [That's not so: I believe Tastemade's model is to create a channel of reviews & comments on restaurants, like Yelp on steroids. In that way this app is exactly analogous to Instagram, facilitating capture & sharing. --J.]

    2. That CEO-speak: it’s a little wayward. How come if I go to the local hardware megastore, that when walking to try and locate a 1 inch drill bit, I’d surely pass stacks of boxes in the aisle which contain the very newest Black and Decker multi-purpose, attachment-blessed, battery-powered, simple-to-use gizmo, that can cut, shape, grind, sand, polish, buff, and also drill a hole of any size.
    p.s. that gizmo is not free
    3. Some bravery would be required, but I reckon a really creative version of this – with a unique, not cookie-cuttered, output – could be done in a about an hour with the Timeline feature in Photoshop.

    [Absolutely, but could != does. People could create filtered images via Photoshop for 20+ years before Instagram arrived, but look how many more started creating them (orders of magnitude more). It's the same with tweeting vs. blogging: yeah, you *could* do more without constraint, but *will* you? --J.]

    Perhaps the workflow required could even be streamlined and made tutorial, with some scripting/Actions (via an Extension or two) …
    p.s. I don’t see any at the Adobe Exchange as of now

  • Jonathan Hughes — 7:33 AM on December 19, 2013

    The CEO wasn’t saying that people were interested in 1″ drill bits, and not drills, but they’re ultimately interested in the final result — the hole. How that hole is made isn’t as necessary as the fact that the hole exists.

    • John Stevenson — 8:03 AM on December 19, 2013

      “How that hole is made isn’t as necessary as the fact that the hole exists.”
      Whoa – that’s a bit existential … do CEOs do that type of stuff?
      My point – not very well made – is that when creativity (for use beyond the utilitarian hole) comes into the deal, then a kit of clever tools is what’s best. (And that Black and Decker knows all about that also.)

  • John Stevenson — 9:55 AM on December 19, 2013

    “People could create filtered images via Photoshop for 20+ years before Instagram arrived …”
    John, Perhaps your original question didn’t relate to what Adobe should shoot for …? But, I think we’ve debated this a while ago. The trouble with the Filters in Photoshop (even some of them in After Effects) is that they are way old. Some don’t work well at all for the popular modern image sizes. Adobe owes at least the Photoshop community an update and some new, scalable ones. Twenty-year old stuff is not good. Some of the very same ancient Filters are even in Photoshop Touch …
    I agree with you that the filters were absolutely the cornerstone of Instagram’s success – even though originally there were only a small collection of them and they had to work well on a low-capability computing platform.
    As for the bigger point: “yeah, you *could* do more without constraint, but *will* you?” – I though that “The People’s Apps” which you featured a month or so back were on the right track.
    p.s. what I meant about the app being free is that I can download it to my iPhone at no charge – see: http://blog.tastemade.com/post/69833925644/we-are-featured-in-vanity-fair – a restaurant making it’s own video could of course gain a commercial benefit

    • John Stevenson — 10:56 AM on December 19, 2013

      another p.s. … oooops, now I got it – you mean that the channel itself, belonging to Tastemade, would be of commercial value (as per Instagram being worth $1B to Facebook, etc.) …

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