The main screen of Fromage presents the cheese listed alphabetically by name. There is a search field at the top and the letters of the alphabet running down the right side. This iPhone user interface element serves an index function. Tap a letter and you jump to that portion of the list.
The Fromage interface is divide into different ways to locate the cheese types that are referenced. You can do a search for a particular cheese with the typical iPhone search bar. This page also displays an alphabetical list of all of the cheeses with the typical iPhonesque index of letters running down the right side. Click on a letter and you jump to the section of the list with cheese whose name starts with that letter. One thing I would like to see added is the ability to search for more than just the title of a cheese. If the word is part of the title, the cheese shows up in the search results. If the word is say a keyword the found in the description of the cheese, it will not show in the results. In the developer’s defense the search field very clearly says: “Search for Cheese Name.” I guess what I am saying is the addition of a keyword search would be nice. Not essential but nice. One use for this might be if you had a bottle of wine, say a pinot noir and wanted to type in “pinot noir” as a search term so you could see the cheeses that pair well with that wine.
You can sort your cheeses by Region, Milk Type, or Texture. I wish these lists had the jump index of letters running down the right side like the main list does.
Fromage presents 3 other ways to group and sort the cheese. You can sort by Region, by Milk Type and by Texture. Unlike the alphabetical listing/search interface, these three methods of classification are not searchable. You are presented with the cheese sorted by Region, Milk Type or Texture. I miss the list of letters running down the right side. When sorted by region it would be nice to be able to click on “U” and jump to USA cheese instead of having to scroll through most of the other cheese types to get to “U”. The regional search also points out one of the possible weaknesses of this app: The extent of it’s coverage. There are oodles and oodles of French cheese listed, in fact they are listed as France plus the region in France. Spain and Italy seem well represented, but some countries only show one cheese or aren’t represented at all. The amount of cheese classified has increased and currently sits at 650. So depending on what region you buy your cheese from, you may be well served or find Fromage lacking.
Selecting a cheese brings up a page with a picture, keywords & suggested wine pairings. Tap on this screen to get the description screen shown on the right. The “Add Notes” button lets you add your own thoughts on the cheese and list where you buy it and the price.
Once you select the cheese you are interested in, you are presented with a screen with a picture of the cheese plus some keywords for region, milk type, texture plus a suggested wine pairing. Clicking anywhere on this screen and you are presented with one or two paragraphs describing the cheese. Something that bothers some people is the fact there is a little banner advertising the site the data is accessed from at the bottom of main keyword screen. At less than 1/4” tall it is hardly what I would call obtrusive. I think this is a fair trade for the use of the site’s data and it doesn’t bother me personally. What does bother me a little bit is the fact that some of the descriptions of the cheese seem to read like advertising copy not a cold dispassionate description. Since the sites being referenced for the information often sell the cheese in question, I do think there is a little bit of this going on. They aren’t trying to get you to buy the cheese via Fromage per se, but the referenced website the data is coming from is trying to get their users to buy the cheese from them, hence the sometimes flowery prose. New to this version of the program is a button to add notes. Now I use this app to learn about cheese called out in cooking recipes and I am not a cheese aficionado by any means. This final screen is not for me, but I will show it below for those people who taste and test lots of cheeses.
Your notes include a 1-5 star rating, 3 classification keywords, tasting notes both written and using keywords (right), the tasting location and date of tasting, place to buy and price.
The “Add Notes” screen allow you to rate the cheese between one to five stars. You can add one of three different keywords for a cheese you want to “Buy”, “Try”, or “Favorite”. Below this area are fields for entering descriptions of the cheese and when you tasted it. There is a field for your written description and another for selecting one or more keywords. There is no ability to add your own keywords as far as I can tell. This keyword list seems quite extensive and you can select multiple keywords for a cheese. The next area allows you to list where you tasted the cheese plus a field for the test date. A last field allows you to list where you buy the cheese and the price paid. As I said: I don’t use this screen, so I am presenting it for what it is worth. I have no valid usability comments.
So to sum up, I do like this app overall. Is it perfect? No. Are there some User Interface improvements that I would like to see? Yes. Would I like to see it track more cheeses? Yes. My attitude is at $2.99 it was worth the risk, the app has improved and the developer seems to listen to feedback. All positive signs. I guess my final 2 cents is I can see this app having a long term spot on my iPhone home screen for cooking apps.
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