There are lots of beer apps for the iPhone and 99% of them are not good. You’d think with how the iOS platform has matured this would be different, but no. As far as I can tell, the apps that are out there are mostly useless, and the beer services out there have no good mobile access. These apps range from reference to pairing to cataloging to sharing.
Some people like to keep a list of beers they’ve had. Early on, I quickly got frustrated with these apps for beer, so I made my own. I got Bento, a database app, and made my own beer list. Bento quickly got too limited and the developers added mostly fluff over functionality, so I switched to HanDBase and have been thrilled with it and its flexibility. I can now have the info I want in there, not what someone else thought I should have.
There’s a pretty bad lot of beer reference apps. UI aside, most will mention the 1000s of beers in their database, yet when I search for beers and breweries I love, like Sixpoint, nothing is there. So they’re immediately useless to me. The shining exception is BeerBuddy because it uses the RateBeer database. That’s key. Pretty good layout, too, though I wish it would default to the search tab (I have no use for a featured beer). I wish it could check the beers into Untappd, though. More on that later. Most use their own and just don’t have enough of a range to be truly useful. BeerAdvocate is currently working on getting their own together, which I’m really looking forward to. I hope they make a proper Objective C app.
I don’t understand why there’s no good beer/food pairing app out there. It’s a really interesting subject, yet the best one that I’ve found (and currently use), Beer Match, has a pretty bad UI. The list of foods could be MUCH better laid out. It takes me too much time to find the food I’m looking for.
What’s on tap?
Another category is finding out what’s on tap at a particular bar, or where to find a particular beer. The main problem with this type of functionality is how often the bar updates its tap list. There are a couple of apps for this, but I have yet to find one with mostly recently-updated tap lists. Some go back many months. Useless. The only “app” I use for this is the BeerMenus web app. It’s the only one I find where a lot of the bars I like have their tap lists updated daily. I do wish BeerMenus had a native app, but their web app seems to work well enough. My one feature request is a favorites section, so I can jump right to seeing my favorite bars’ tap lists.
I find social networking for beer pretty fun. In my opinion, Untappd is the best, and what I use often. It’s a great network with great guys running it, and the badges you can earn often introduce me to beers I would not have otherwise tried. The app itself isn’t great, though. The layout is good, but it’s essentially a native wrapper around a web app. This makes it slow and sluggish, and doesn’t work like you’d expect an iPhone app to work. I know they’re working on a new version of their app, but I have little hope it will be rewritten in proper Objective C. Early on, before they had a “native” app, I bought the no-longer-available iTappd app. It’s a truly native iOS app and I use it very often, though it offers little functionality. It really shines in low cell phone signal situations, when the official Untappd app becomes useless. I really wish the developers of iTappd had kept up with it. Untappd certainly seems to offer a pretty comprehensive API.
There’s another network called Brewski Me. Nice guys, and very nice app, but they just don’t have the network like Untappd does, so I don’t use it. Too bad, since the app really is very nicely done. My wish is that they and Untappd will somehow get together so we get a great app and a great network.
The general theme of iPhone beer apps seems to be that you rarely have a great app AND great content. It’s usually either-or. That’s sad.
I apologize if anyone involved in any of these apps is offended by what I’ve said, but I really want better, more useful apps for beer.