One App To Rule Them All

Recently, I was asked whether it might be possible to have all the drink recipes conveniently collected within a single app and maybe use in-app purchase to sell add-on content.


There already exists a few models to follow along these lines, such as Caramelized Smart Cookbooks, comiXology or Apple’s own iBooks.

One problem with the all-in-one approach is it necessitates a generic treatment of recipes—lumping them together—which makes it hard to rise above a lowest common denominator, that hobgoblin consistency.

Another problem is that all-in-one implies an overwhelming number of recipes to sift through on a small screen. My old Cocktails+ app had around 2,000 recipes in it, and it was ungainly. All-in-one just isn’t as convenient as it might seem.

There are other problems that further tip the scales: building the store-within-the-app is yet another complex development project, and the in-app purchase model complicates the business side and poses unique marketing challenges.

So, no, we’re not going to do a single, monolithic app. Instead, we’re going to sell a few apps built from a common framework. Each app will have a specific, curated theme, little overlap between them, and customers will purchase those apps that interest them. Each app will be a little different to better support its particular content, while remaining similar enough to operate the same.

It’s a real shame we’re all the way up to version 7 of iOS and there’s still no way for a third party app to integrate with Spotlight Search. It would be so obvious to use the built-in search feature of iOS to jump straight to a recipe or ingredient like you can a contact or mail message. I keep anticipating Apple will provide an API, and it keeps not happening.

Nevertheless, I think things will work out pretty well. The theoretical down-side is that the customer might have to look in multiple apps to find a recipe, but our curation should keep it obvious where to look and there aren’t going to be that many apps to look through, anyways. Meanwhile, each app will be free to act as a showcase for a distinct aspect of the Cocktail Renaissance, with its own aesthetic and point of view. Diversity is worth celebrating.

—Martin Doudoroff