Whether you know Jamie Oliver from the daytime talk show circuit, from his dramatic attempts to save American children from the deep-fried trenches of the school lunch program on Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution, or because he saddled his kids with wacky names like Buddy Bear and Daisy Boo, chances are good that his name is already familiar.
Beneath his “naked chef” persona and requisite bedhead coiff, the sprightly Brit is building a media empire on the premise that good is the province of all — from the public school cafeteria to the Michelin star dining room. After a recent update to his iOS app, Jamie’s Recipes, Oliver’s domain has now expanded to include the iPad.
Jamie’s Recipes is as well-appointed as any one will find in the ever-expanding cooking app genre. The application, which is free to download comes with a taster pack of ten recipes, two how-to videos, plus a welcome message from Oliver. Do you want more recipes? Of course you do. And there’s the rub. Jamie’s Recipes is organized into 12 packs of recipes, all of which are available for in-app purchase. The recipe packs are currently on sale for half-price ($0.99 per pack for 10 – 12 recipes) until August 14, 2011.
The app is geared toward beginning cooks, getting dinner on the table, and eating whole, rather than heavily processed foods. The recipe packs include have titles such as “Fresh and Wholesome” and “Fast Food, Slow-Cooking” as well as a range of 20-Minute Meal titles, including one specifically for vegetarians.
After exploring the taster pack that comes with Jamie’s Recipes, it is clear that the developers thought of everything a home chef might want in a mobile cooking application. Not only is the app simply stunning, but it boasts impressive attention to detail. It even lets you add equipment to your shopping list! The shopping list can be edited and organized by aisle, so it can be used to purchase groceries for large trips to the market.
Little things, such as the way an item is crossed off the shopping list, or the the sound that the app makes when the shopping cart is emptied, make using Jamie’s Recipes a pleasure.
The developer’s decision to package the recipes for in-app purchase is a flaw in an otherwise perfect architecture. Instead of giving the user just one choice to make (purchase the app — yes or no), she is now faced with a dozen choices. The developers could remedy this situation, and be all things to all users, by offering a version of the app that lets users buy in to all current and future in-app content for a set price.
Jamie’s Recipes does make an effort to reveal its in-app content to consumers, which is an admirable compromise, yet it will still not be enough to encourage me to buy in to the system.
To see all of the recipes available in the packs, select the “view all” icon, which is located on the upper left. Perhaps because Oliver hails from the UK, there is a category just for curries. Selecting this category brings up photos of over a dozen curry recipes. Should you have a hankering for his Proper Goan-style pork vindaloo, the app instructs you to purchase Fast Food, Slow-Cooking. If Thai green curry with coconut rice is more to your taste, then purchasing 20-Minute Meals Vol. 1 is necessary.
Relying heavily on in-app purchasing places the burden for determining the app’s value squarely on the consumer. I would rather try a lite version of an app, and then choose to buy the entire app (or not) rather than be nickel and dimed for tiny pieces of content. Even at the current sale price, were a user to purchase all of the recipe packs, the price tops that of comparable apps such as Mario Batali Cooks! or Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything.
There is, however, no time like the present for any user interested in snapping up any of Oliver’s recipe packs, for after August 14, the price returns to $1.99.