iPhone apps for mealtime: bad behavior ahead!

iPhoning at mealtime

OK, how many apps do we need to communicate our location with services and each other? Let’s see, these are the apps I’m currently using. You can see links to my accounts most of these things on the recently revamped Google Profiles (make sure you update yours, by the way).

1. Long in advance. Plancast, Lanyrd, Google Calendar, TripIt and Tungle.me to tell people I’m heading to SXSW on Friday (or LeWeb in Paris in December). What does that do? Let my everyone know where they can find me and how to get on my schedule.

2. Short in advance. I’m using Ditto to tell people where I’m planning on going. Say on Saturday morning I might say I’m going to the Iron Works for Lunch. What does that do? Lets people near me know where I’ll be in an hour or two, plus restaurants can start sending me offers to convince me to try them, instead of Iron Works. I also use Bizzy to see if I’m really going to the best place possible (or to find somewhere to go) and I check Foursquare and Yelp or Zagat for ideas too. Foursquare’s new recommendations are quite nice, for instance. It shows me which places are most popular with my friends and with Foursquare users overall.

3. Walking in the door. I pull out Gowalla, which checks me in on Foursquare. Or, usually, I just pull out Foursquare. That sends a few signals. First, it lets everyone know I’ve arrived, but it also makes a great history so that I can see where I visited, or use Memolane later on to see that (which just shipped this week). My wife, who is addicted to Facebook, usually checks us in on that service (she tags me so she can check us in together). Finally, other systems like Yelp also do checkins. We also might send a video to our friends on Path or Facebook and if my dinner guest is really interesting I might ask for an interview to post on CinchCast.

4. During the meal. I’ll take a picture of my guests with Instagram, which goes to the new Flipboard (on my iPad) and also Foursquare, among other places. When our meals arrive I’ll pull out Foodspotting and take a picture of each meal and tag it. I might even write a full review on Yelp or add it as an answer to a Quora question.

5. As we are leaving. I’ll “check out” with the new Bizzy and rate the restaurant, which helps other people who are looking for suggestions. I’ll also tweet, while my wife posts a Facebook status update, letting everyone know whether we enjoyed our meal.


Do you see the problem with this?

First, this is only something a douchebag geek blogger would do. Yes, I’m guilty.

Second, it’s too many apps. Many of these things could be consolidated into a single app.

Third, these systems are all silos that don’t work together.

Fourth, if you do do all these you’ll get strange looks. One lady at a meal even admonished me when Maryam was in the bathroom “why don’t you just talk with your wife?”

One thing, I’m noticing I’m not the only one staring into phone screens anymore at even fine restaurants. You all are starting to copy my bad behavior.

That’s sad, even though I’m not going to stop because these do bring me lots of utility. Heck, check out my sushi on Foodspotting, or my Memolane, where you see a history of everything I’ve done on social networks.

More bad behavior ahead!

UPDATE: Did you know there’s an app for learning table manners? Now I’ve seen everything!


22 thoughts on “iPhone apps for mealtime: bad behavior ahead!

      1. Robert, I was curious about that photo too. But your son does have very clean fingernails, even if they could use a trim like Leon said.

        Yes, you are rather over-apped, but you seem to be completely aware of it, and of the implications. As long as Mrs. Scobleizer does not become incensed with your behavior, and it does not distract your from your responsibilities as a full-time employee of Rackspace (I just noticed the prominently placed disclaimer) you might as well enjoy yourself.

        Thank you for this uncommonly enjoyable blog post.


    1. Leon, I was JUST about to ask the same question!!! At first I thought perhaps it was Mrs. Scobleizer, but then I noticed that hairy cheek and thought I’d best not inquire any further.


  1. I did a post on this last year about check in overload and the need for apps that did it all. After that came out Tri-Post or Triout and a few others that did combo checkins. But youre right Robert it is much. The ideal thing would be like a google oauth system that would check you into just it, and it does all your stuff (is Eric Schmidt listening). Google could do it off of that profile page they have.

    Its is funny though to see full tables of people doing this. I was at a big social media table recently for dinner and when the food came it was like synchronized camera plate photo. Kinda funny.

    Somebody should make an all check in app. Besides talking to your marriage partner? Isnt that what divorce attorneys are for? LOL.


  2. I completely agree.

    Imagine if tungle, plancast, & ditto became one service or at least a beautiful integration.

    if Food spotting integrates 4sq tips & adds Gowalla that would combine 3 services at table.

    I like multicheckin services like footfeed but you sacrifice a lot.

    PS: write it down. Yahoo will either smother beluga or it will figure out how to integrate w/ skype & create a killer comm app


  3. Funny – I like your idea of a combo – the ultimate iPhone app which basically does all of the work for you. You basically only forgot that you soon also will be able to pay for your meal using a NFC Iphone app. Combining that with a review service, checkin/out service – Where does it end…


  4. Or, and here’s a radical idea, recognise that *virtually no-one* needs to know where you’re going, what you’re eating, who you’re with or where you’ve just been, and just stop doing all this crap just because tools exist which allow you to. Hell, most of the time, you don’t even need to know where you’ve been or what you’ve just eaten. Seriously, an awful lot of this social media cruft has generated vast amounts of data that the world just *doesn’t need to know*; just get over yourselves – not *everything* you do is important!

    Not aimed particularly at you, Robert, but you’re a particlarly egregious example of social media obsession.


  5. Funny, Nina Zagat, who runs “Zagat’s Guides” (the most famous restaurant guides in the world) says she can’t stand people like you and that she’s not gonna put her phone away during meals. I actually side with her. Times are a changing!


    1. Well, as they say in the internet world, HATERZ GONNA HATE. who am I to back down when the older generation has less table etiquette than me. Rather, I’m proud of it.
      Times sure are changing, but not for the better, I think. I respect both your and nina’s decision but I reckon that she’s not doing the same as you – going on 10 applications at every event, dinner, building, park you go to, to blog about where she is, will be, was, etc. sure, pull out an app or two maximum, but like the person who posted under me said, virtually no-one wants to know everything about you. most people who do can pick up the phone and call you.


  6. This is exactly why I quit checking in, deleted all checkin apps and try not to look at my phone in restaurants and most situations where I should be actively socializing IRL. Too much work. I will occasionally take a snap of a particularly attractive meal or tweet where I am just to let people know I’m around incase they want to meet up. But I don’t get OCD about it. Sometimes it’s nice to have a good memory without electronic documentation of every event.


  7. yeah too many apps, too many services. I like the auto check-in feature that Google Latitude has introduced… it does it automatically while it’s still in your pocket!

    friends who are meeting us know where we are, and I can see where I’ve been and rate places (and thus get recommendations – HotPot).


  8. “Table Manners app”???

    Gimme a break. That’s stuff you’re supossed to learn when you’re a wee little kiddie.

    The first thing it should tell you is it’s freakin’ bad manners to be ignoring your other table guests ’cause you’re totally engrossed with your iGadget!


  9. We don’t have that kind of problem in North Berkeley 😦 😦 because once you go into a restaurant and try to checkin there’s no internet connection for an iPhone and by the time you get home you’ve forgotten about it.

    Too bad, but maybe if merchants complain then one day Berkeley Planning and Zoning will actually approve some cell transmitters.


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  11. LOL. I really sympathize with your wife, that is, if she wasn’t holding on to a phone, too, when you were at the restaurant. But yeah, I totally agree that because of the trend of sharing things online, it has become a bad habit to think of everything as “bloggable” Where you are, what you’re doing, what you’re eating…Maybe there are people who still have the interest to know about these things nowadays, but I think eventually, people will get tired to see updates of everything and just don’t care. Or maybe not. Who knows, right?


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