Last year, Evernote launched Food, an iPhone app to save photos and details of your favorite meals, which would then be synced to your Evernote account. Today, Evernote is launching Food 2.0, a major revamp that includes a native iPad app and a completely rebuilt experience focused on exploration, saving recipes, and browsing restaurants available in a specific area.
I have been able to quickly play around with a final version of Food 2.0, and I came away quite impressed by the effort put into this relaunch. I never got into Evernote Food, mainly because my girlfriend and I tend to save our recipes in dedicated apps, bookmark others we want to check out or simply keep a note with links to them, and because we use other services for restaurant reviews and recommendations. Being able to save a photo of a final meal -- either made by us or someone else -- didn't hold much appeal against dedicated solutions. Evernote Food 2.0 wants to address exactly this issue by collecting in a single app, Evernote-style, recipes you can explore and "clip" (i.e. save in your Evernote account), while offering standalone views for restaurants and the meals you have already saved (and will continue saving) in Evernote Food.
The iPad app starts with a gorgeous horizontal wall of photos for Explore, My Cookbook, Restaurants, and My Meals. You can swipe to the right to reveal a napkin with the Evernote logo on the left, and tap on a section to view an "unfolding" animation open a specific section. I noticed that the speed of the animation took an extra second upon the first launch of the app on my iPad 3, but then went back to normal as I kept using the app. On the iPhone, the app uses the same vertical layout for sections seen in Evernote 5.0.
The Explore tab stood out as the most interesting addition in my opinion. I spend a decent amount of time browsing recipes online, and with Food 2.0 Evernote has partnered with several publishers -- including Serious Eats, Food Republic, and Oh My Veggies -- to populate the Explore Recipes section with "featured" picks for dish ideas. You can tap on a photo thumbnail to bring up an embedded web view, ready for clipping (Update: It appears Evernote is simply collecting content from these recipe websites, with no formal "partnership" in place).
Saving an article in Evernote doesn't automatically extract recipe information from a webpage like other apps -- it simply saves the webpage with photos and embedded style. This is an area of the app that I'd like to see improved, because Paprika and Basil have shown that it's possible to clip recipes in better, more automated ways. If you don't want to browse the suggested picks, you can also search. Recipes can obviously also be saved using the standard Evernote clipper, not just the app.
Saved recipes end up in the Cookbook. Evernote says they analyze "the text of each note in your account to identify the ones that are recipes" with "no special tags or notebooks necessary"; after the first sync with my account, Evernote did indeed find two notes that were recipes. Tapping on a recipe opens, once again, the web view for a recipe you had saved.
From my brief time with the app, I had a chance to try the Restaurants view for my area. Here in Viterbo, Evernote is using Foursquare data as overlays to an embedded Maps view; unfortunately, Yelp has more results in my area, and Evernote was only able to bring up a few bars and restaurants, and not even the good ones. However, I managed to "save a place" in the Food app, and saved places -- alongside meals associated with a location -- are searchable within this view.
I'll save additional thoughts for a proper review of the app, but my first impressions with Evernote Food 2.0 are very positive. Evernote wanted to build a "complete" experience from the start of a meal (browse recipes and restaurants), down to the process itself (cook or save a place) and the final step -- the My Meals section. While not as featured as single-purpose recipe apps, Evernote Food 2.0 will undoubtedly be used more by people looking for a simple and integrated way to save recipes in Evernote (indeed one of the most popular use cases for the app).
Evernote Food 2.0 is available on the App Store.