Cooking Hands Free with iPad – Gilt Taste vs. iCookbook

Thanks to Paprika, I use my iPad every night to get dinner on the table, so when two iPad apps recently received updates promising to end the need to touch the screen while prepping a meal, I was intrigued.

Though iCookbook and Gilt Taste approach going hand-free in the kitchen (and pretty much every thing else) differently, the aim is the same: to help the cook keep her slimy, poultry-covered hands off the screen. Keep reading after the break to see which app wins the no-touch cook off.

Hand-free function:

  • iCookbook allows the user to turn a recipe’s digital pages via voice control, while Gilt Taste requires the cook to wave a hand across the screen to change pages. Both iCookBook and Gilt Taste successfully implemented hands-free options while cooking. Nice work all around. However after using both apps, I found neither was that much of an improvement over just putting the iPad in a ziploc bag and touching the screen as needed.
  • Both systems have requirements to function properly. Gilt Taste needs sufficient lighting, while iCookbook needs relative quiet. It’s important to assess your kitchen before trying to use the apps. Ultimately I preferred Gilt Taste because I live in an open-plan home and found the voice control awkward to use with other people around. It might be great if you live alone or can shut the door to the kitchen.

Content:

  • Gilt Taste’s content is more ambitious. While there are some dishes that I can’t imagine making (looking at you, Garlic Thyme Duckfat Popcorn), there were also a number of recipes, from spaghetti carbonara to pancakes to hamburgers – many by former Gourmet editor-in-chief Ruth Reichl — that aimed to improve daily cooking. I liked that the app included both basic, useful recipes as well as more exotic fare.
  • Gilt Taste’s format is looser than a traditional cookbook. It feels more like a blog and new recipes are added often (yay!) but there is no way to search, sort, or favorite recipes (boo!). The relaxed, conversational writing style drew me in and I wanted to spend time going through the recipes.
  • In contrast, iCookbook is full of recipes that include specific brands. I do not favor cooking with recipes that rely on brand name ingredients because the nutritional value of the dish often suffers if one relies on pre-packaged components. However, iCookbook also includes slow cooker recipes (sponsored by Crock Pot) that eschew brand-name ingredients in favor of promoting their slow cookers. I am always looking for new slow cooker recipes, and iCookbook had 205 of them!

If you’re looking to learn about cooking, Gilt Taste wins over iCookbook, but iCookbook might be a better choice for busy families who need to get a meal on the table quickly and want lots of choices.

Cost: Gilt Taste is free, but it can’t be considered ad-free because the app’s supporters want users to spend money in the Shop. Unlike most ad-supported apps, users have a choice to avoid the shop if they choose, and there are no banner ads.  In contrast, iCookbook is universal and ad-free, but sells for $4.99, and promises readers frequent updates.

Conclusion: While iCookbook offered more recipes than Gilt Taste, save for the slow cooker recipes they weren’t necessarily for food I wanted to cook or eat. For me, Gilt Taste beat iCookbook on all three factors I evaluated, and since it’s free, there is no reason not to give its hands-free recipes a try. Users whose taste leans toward traditional American fare, and who don’t might the emphasis on brand name, processed foods will find iCookbook to be a useful addition to their iOS recipe collection.

Hands-free innovation is an exciting, but still nascent, idea, and even though I probably won’t turn to either of these apps because of the hands-free options, I hope developers keep trying new ways to make cooking with iPad better.

Part of PadGadget’s continuing series “Get Cooking with iPad”

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About Emily: Emily is a freelance writer who loves discovering new apps whenever she can pry the iPad away from her children or husband. You can contact her via Twitter: @whatwentwrite