1. cjvitek's Avatar
    Meal Snap, by Daily Burn
    $0.99, ***


    • Fun concept
    • Somewhat accurate

    • Calorie count is way off
    • Rating process needs work

    Meal Snap is an interesting app idea. You can take a picture of whatever you are eating, and Meal Snap will not only accurately identify the food item, but it will also tell you how many calories are found in it.

    Identify the food and calories? Wha…how….huh? Well, that was my first thought. How the heck can an app identify food accurately from a picture. So I had to download it to try it out. First thing I did was take a picture of my soda bottle. After about 5 minutes (processing…processing) is said I had a bottle of Cherry Coke! It was correct! The next day, I tried it while I was out at lunch. It identified a Philly cheese steak sandwich I was having as a “roast beef with peppers and onions”. Not too bad. A friend, who was having a chicken cheese streak, had his correctly identified as a chicken sandwich. A third friend insisted I take a picture of his hand – and it came back as a non-food item.

    The accuracy is surprisingly good when identifying the pictures. A fajita steak meal I was having at home, with potatoes and raw cucumbers and peppers was identified correctly (although they called the fajita meat “chip steak”). A bowl of potato chips was correctly identified. I even took a picture of a salt shaker that was correctly identified. Now, certainly some things may be beyond the apps ability. I took a picture of some breaded, fried pickle slices, and it thought they were chicken nuggets. Not an unreasonable assumption given that breaded, fried pickle slices are probably not that common.

    One nice feature is that you can also “grade” the apps conclusion. Once a food item is identified, you can indicate if the food identification was “awful, ok, or spot on”. You can do the same thing with the calories. I tried this with my cheese steak sandwich, saying it was “ok” (since it didn’t see the cheese, mushrooms, and was calling it a roast beef sandwich) and then it suddenly changed the description to a veggie sandwich! Huh? What? I then changed my rating to “awful” but it kept the veggie sandwich description.
    The biggest problem with the app, however, was with the calorie estimates. These estimates were wildly off. The previously mentioned Cherry Coke bottle, with 260 calories, was estimated to be between 78 and 117 calories. The cheesesteak sandwich was estimated to be 610 to 915 calories (I could only DREAM it was that low). Heck, the salt, which has no calories because salt can’t be metabolized by the human body, was said to have 156 to 234 calories. If you want to use this app for help in calorie counting, it is all but useless.

    There is also an option to login to facebook and twitter to post your results…but truthfully I don’t know why someone would do that.

    All in all, this is a fun, demonstration app that shows a cool gimmick, but ultimately that’s all it is. The food identification was sort of fun (my friend still insists there is someone looking at each picture to identify the food) and was surprisingly accurate. However, the calorie counting was way off, and the ranges included aren’t going to help anyone if they are trying to count calories. At $0.99, the app is a fun gimmick that can get people scratching their heads, but don’t buy it for dieting or real calorie counting. Three out of five stars.

    Rating scale:

    * = No redeeming qualities or features, probably not worth it even if it is free
    ** = Few redeeming qualities, or is simply isn't worth the price
    *** = Some good features but also some clear flaws.
    **** = A solid app, worth the money if interested, a few flaws or problems or slightly overpriced
    ***** = Top of the line app, no problems or drawbacks.

    Price is factored into the ratings. Ratings are lowered if I feel the price of the app outweighs the benefits/enjoyment/features it provides. Likewise, an app that is a good value for the money will have a higher rating. Please comment on these reviews. If you own the app, tell me what your opinion is. If the review prompted you to buy (or not buy) the app, let me know why. If you want more information about the app, go ahead and ask.
    08-12-2011 03:54 PM