Sunday, February 22, 2009

Review: VegOut Application for iPhone and iPod touch

As I mentioned previously, I was given a promo code to try out a brand new vegan app for the iPhone and iPod touch.

The name VegOut brings back fond memories for me. Veg Out was a great vegetarian restaurant in Brisbane, Australia. (I lived in Queensland, Australia for six months.) Anyway, it makes me think of their amazing sweet potato fries. They're no longer open, though.

Anyway, on to the review...

Starting up the VegOut app

When first loading the VegOut app, it attempts to use your current location. I received the following error message: Your location could not be determined. I was bummed but I don't blame the app, as other apps on my iPod touch (such as Google Maps) are unable to find my current location. I guess my iPod doesn't know where Stratford, Prince Edward Island is.

Because VegOut couldn't find my current location I was prompted to manually add my location in Settings. I clicked on Settings and input my address. It worked! The three (yes, only three) results in HappyCow in Charlottetown were displayed. The results were listed by proximity to me and were complete with ratings, a label of Vegan, Vegetarian, or Veg Friendly, and the distance to each.

I was impressed and decided to go back to the Settings menu to play around some more.

Settings for the VegOut app

Here are all the settings you can configure:
  • Location: You can choose to use your current location or manually specify a location.

  • Distance: You're able to adjust the range to search in from your location.

  • Sort by: You can sort by Distance, Rating (average user rating on HappyCow), or Alphabetical.

  • Filter by diet: You can filter by diet to display Vegan, Vegetarian, or Veg Friendly businesses (or any combination thereof).

Information displayed for a business

If you click on a business in your search results you are shown the following information:
  • Phone

  • Type of food

  • Address: Clicking on the address will display the business on a map. You can then easily get directions to the destination.

  • Website: Clicking on the URL will bring up the website for the business. The program keeps a small bar at the bottom to allow you to easily close the window and go back to where you were in the app.

  • Price

  • Details: Clicking here will take you to the entry on HappyCow's website, where you can view user reviews.

Problems encountered using the VegOut app

  1. Current Location: As I mentioned above, the application did not find my current location. However, I think that's a bigger issue with the iPod touch. For some reason it doesn't find me here on Prince Edward Island. I'll be curious to see how well it works when I'm back in DC next month. I'm assuming it'll work much better.

  2. Maps: When pulling a business up on a map, I wasn't entirely clear on how to get back to the app. The app didn't keep a bar present like it did when I clicked on Details to load a website. The only way I could figure out to get back to the app was to go to my home screen on the iPod and load the app again, which took me back to the app's main screen. Maybe I'm missing something. If not, I'd suggest adding this functionality in the next version.

Questions about the VegOut app

  1. Does the app automatically pull new data from HappyCow if/when the HappyCow website is updated? For example, if a new vegan restaurant opens in Washington, DC and is added to HappyCow will that appear in the app right away?

In summary

I love the VegOut application. The only thing I could find that I didn't like was the fact that you can't easily get back to the app once you load a business on a Google Map. If you have an iPhone or an iPod touch I highly recommend downloading it. It's $4.99 and worth every penny. I keep thinking of how useful this app is going to be when I'm traveling.

For more information, you can visit the VegOut application's website or download the VegOut app from iTunes.

(Image courtesy of the VegOut application's website)


Champ Bennett said...

Hi Billy and Vegan Talk readers! I'm the developer of VegOut. First off thanks for the great review!

I'll try address some of the questions issue that Billy mentioned:

1. Current Location: the iPod Touch uses a technology licensed from SkyHook Wireless to figure out your location. Unfortunately this technology does not work well outside of the US. It does work great in heavily populated US and Canadian cities, but everyone else is left to manually locate. Read more about this here:

This is not an issue with the iPhone 3g as it uses both GPS and cell tower triangulation to find your location.

2. When data is added, modified or removed from HappyCow, it automatically updates in VegOut, too. They are completely in sync.

3. I completely agree that opening the address in the Maps application is frustrating when there's no easy way to get back to VegOut without starting over. I'm working on a way to make this a bit less painful, but unfortunately the problem really lies with the iPhone's/iPod's limitation of only running one application at a time. It will be better though, promise!

Take care and thanks for taking the time to write this review!

Katy said...

Great review! I have an iPhone and have been considering getting this app, but I wasn't sure because of the price. Maybe now I'll try it out!

Billy said...

Thanks for addressing my questions Champ. I appreciate it.

Katy: I highly recommend it. I'm excited about using it on my trip to DC.

Bird* said...

this app is pretty amazing..... i just downloaded it recently.

Eric said...

Okay, now I'm annoyed that I wasn't sent a promo code for VegOut. I paid for mine so that I'd have it on-hand for an 8-week trip around N. America starting this Monday). *makes a face* Well, hopefully it will be indispensable and thus worth the $5.

PS - I got hooked up with a copy of VSK, too. Here's my review, in case you're interested.

Billy said...

Hi Eric,

Thanks for your comment. VegOut is definitely worth the $5. I've been using it on my trip and it's been really useful.

I'll check out your review of the book as well. Thanks.