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WINEfindr is, according to the App Store description, the world's first visual search enabled price comparison wine app.'
I noticed this app in the 'featured' section of the App Store, and as someone who likes a glass of wine or two, I downloaded it. However, for me, it didn't really delver on this promise.
Visual search for wine labels is a great idea. The Tesco Wine Finder app, which also uses the same Cortexica technology, works well, and allows users to find prices and recommendations from Tesco's wine range.
The technology clearly works, but the problem with this app seems to be that there aren't enough wines in the database, because it hasn't worked for me at all, despite trying several bottles from Tesco, Sainsburys and Majestic, retailers whose prices the app is supposed to list.
Having taken a photo, it takes a while to process and return any kind of result, and it becomes pretty frustrating when it draws a blank time after time:
Perhaps I've been unlucky, and have tried the app with some of the wines that haven't been added to the WINEfindr database yet, but it is underwhelming having been promised 'matching results within seconds.'
Judging by the App Store reviews, I'm not the only one. There are eight one star reviews complaining about the visual search function, 'a wine Shazam this is not', says one.
Users can search by keyword instead and see details about the wine, including tasting notes, alcohol content, food matching suggestions and more, all of which is very useful:
Other search options include by the type of food you want the wine to partner, though since some foods produce a large number of matching wines (40 for beef), some more options to narrow the search, such as by price range, would come in handy.
There is also a discovery feature, which was also used on the Tesco Finder app, which allows you to select wine fruit machine style:
There is also a rather nifty 'Bottle Flow' feature which allows you to scroll through the bottles in your history like album covers on iTunes:
You compare prices across the retailers which stock the bottle you have selected. Other useful options include suggested alternatives to the wine.
You can actually purchase wine through the app, though the execution lets it down. To add items to your basket, you need to enter your username and password for the retailer, in the case of the screenshot below, Ocado, something which may deter some shoppers.
The alternative is to head to the retailer's website, but this brings with it the familiar problem of a checkout process that has not been optimised for mobile users, which may limit the number of conversions that come through the app.
I like the idea of this app a lot, and it does contain some useful search and discovery features, but doesn't quite live up to its billing.
The big selling point of the app is the visual search function. Ideally, you would be able to quickly scan bottles at your local supermarket, or perhaps labels of wines that you have enjoyed at restaurants or dinner parties, and find out where you could buy it.
This app is retailing at £2.99, and judging by the App Store reviews and score (2.5 out of 5), a number of users don't feel they have had value for money.
I think the team behind WINEfindr needs to have a look at some of the issues I mentioned, and that reviewers have raised, as these poor reviews will be deterring others from downloading the app.
It has potential, but the visual search feature needs to be more reliable for the app to become a useful resource.