Counting calories isn’t fun, which you’ll know if you’ve tried it. But a cool new iPhone app released just last week actually manages to make the exercise entertaining and light, while still keeping it informative. Meal Snap analyzes pictures of food you take with your iPhone’s camera, and returns an approximate calorie count for each item.
The app represents somewhat of a departure for DailyBurn, the company behind its creation. DailyBurn, which was acquired by IAC in 2010, is a social network that focuses on fitness and diet tracking, with an emphasis on community involvement and granular detail. Meal Snap, however, represents a slightly different approach, and one which DailyBurn CEO Andy Smith thinks will be easier to swallow for customers the company’s other products may have had more trouble reaching.
Smith says Meal Snap is part of an effort to create “fun, engaging products that help with behavioral change,” and DailyBurn has found, in taking the pulse of users, that’s the way to go in the future when it comes to health-focused apps. Health tracking is hard to maintain longterm with a high level of detail. Meal Snap is only one of a lot of different apps in the pipeline from DailyBurn based around the idea that simple, fun, focused apps are what customers are looking for, according to Smith.
Meal Snap, which sells for $2.99, doesn’t really tie-in much to DailyBurn’s own iPhone app or the site itself, but that’s sort of the point. It simply offers the ability to take a photo of food, add a caption (optional) and let the system find out how many calories it contains. The app also automatically keeps a daily log of your tracked meals, but there’s no sign-up process, and no real settings to fiddle with, although you can sign in to Twitter, Facebook and Foursquare to share your snapped meals with those social networks. The photo logging element taps in to the recent success of apps like Instagram and Foodspotting, while still providing health information at the same time.
Meal Snap succeeds because it has few barriers to usage, and does one thing very well. Social networking features are a nice bonus, but they aren’t central to the app and no login is required at any point if that’s what a user prefers. Everything happens from one central screen, and meal identification can happen in the background after you exit the app. Smith thinks “apps that do one thing, and do them very well” best represent the direction we’re headed with mobile software, and after a few days using an app as simple, impressive and intuitive as Meal Snap, I’m inclined to agree.