CMenu Lite iPhone App Review.
Dubbing itself the official app for the foodie, CMenu wants to put you in charge of your food adventures. With CMenu you get to “C” the restaurant menu before actually going to a restaurant. Explore everything from the different dishes to their prices and what others have said about it. That makes your decision to actually go there much easier.
What can you do with CMenu
While the most useful feature of CMenu seems to be the restaurant lookup, there’s a bunch of other things that you can do. You can search for what restaurants are nearby by name, location or type of cuisine. I really loved this feature, since I can always think of what I want to eat (Italian, Asian, etc), but can never figure out where to go to get it.
Once you discover a restaurant you like, express yourself. Take pictures, write short reviews, bookmark the location for future reference, right from your iPhone. If you felt that good and enjoyed the service, you can let your friends know about it by sharing your thoughts via Facebook and Twitter. You can also invite your friends to be part of the CMenu circle.
CMenu takes a different approach to rating. Instead of rating each restaurant using stars (“what’s the difference between 2 and 3 stars anyway?” they say), they chose to let you rate a restaurant with three colors: red, yellow and green. Red means bad, yellow means average, green is thumbs up. Simpler, granted, but what’s the difference between green and yellow? I realize that making the user choose between good and bad, with no option in between, seems harsh, though.
So what else is new?
CMenu aims to create a list of restaurants in your area, even though the list is not curated by the community. For now, CMenu works only with restaurants in the Bay Area (San Francisco, San Jose, Berkley, etc), so if you’re not from there, you won’t find much use in this app. Searching doesn’t occur in some “global” database, but rather in the local database that’s created by CMenu. This somewhat strips away some power from the user, because, yes, you’re encouraged to rate restaurants and offerings, but only for restaurants that are on the list. Perhaps a crowdsourced solution would benefit more people? Until then, we’ll have to make do with the list that’s curated for us, and not by us.
After looking at their website, it seems that CMenu is offering restaurant owners the option to submit their restaurant and menu to their database, for free. It’s still up to the owners though to update their offering. No crowdsourcing, again, sadly.
The other problem with CMenu is that you need a profile and account with them in order to do pretty much 80% of the tasks you can do with the app, including bookmarking restaurants, reviewing stuff or adding friends. Since your friends will also have to get their own account with CMenu, this provides a barrier to entry that I’d personally do without. Until their database expands, or their own network of users increases, CMenu remains powerful in seeing restaurant menus and prices, but significantly less-powerful when it comes to reviews and social networking capabilities. For these considerations, CMenu gets a C from me.
Have it already ?
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