Untappd recently updated their beer check-in app for Android and iOS with a bunch of the usual interface and performance enhancements, but also a new Discover tab to find out the best places to drink nearby. What better time to check out the one and only social network for brew enthusiasts?
The core function of Untappd is still there: share what you're drinking with friends. In addition to having its own social network complete with friending system, comments, five-star ratings, and virtual "cheers" to the check-ins of others, Untappd status updates can be shared with Facebook and Twitter as well. You can even attach your location and a picture if you're feeling fancy. If you can't find your beer, there's a submission form included in the mobile app which lets users create full profiles for others to check into. Once beers are in the database, breweries themselves can take over control, submit label art, and monitor engagement.
Like most check-in apps, there are a bunch of badges to be earned - some limited-time, others for completing certain achievements. There's also a web component with a few additional functions, such as seeing the top-rated beers worldwide.
The new Discover tab is really awesome. Untappd can figure out the kinds of beers you should be drinking based on your check-in history, ratings, and what your friends are drinking - it's like the Pandora of getting drunk. There's also a ton of location-based discovery built in too, thanks to tight integration with Foursquare. Users can find nearby drinking buddies that are on Untappd, see what beers are available within a certain radius based on previous check-ins, as well as check out the bars in the neighborhood.
As always, there's social discovery too. You can find which beers are trending across the whole Untappd network, as well as flip through the brews your friends are enjoying on the timeline tab called The Pub. The Notices tab, home to incoming notifications and the latest Untappd news, sometimes had difficulty loading up and would just show the previously-active screen instead.
Untappd's UI elements are all very nicely polished, with a fine color palette and sharp font choices. Unfortunately, there's very little in the way of animations, such as sliding in new screens from the left, pull-to-refresh, or dropping the Drink Up screen from the top. Part of this I imagine comes from Untappd's heritage as an excellent web app, which (though functional) couldn't support those kinds of things. Another relic of this set-up is that the back key takes users backwards through navigation history of the app rather than up the hierarchy and eventually out of the app. I could see this being useful at times, especially if users get in the habit of using the home button or menu option to exit the app, but it's certainly not what I'm used to.
Still, Untappd is extremely usable and uncluttered. There's a really nice option in settings to jump right to the Drink Up screen on boot up as opposed to the news feed screen. Saving those few extra taps is really helpful when you're out with friends and don't want to look like That Guy that spends all of his time on his phone (even though if you're reading AC, you probably are That Guy regardless).
- Awesome for beer fans (which is everybody)
- Smooth, functional UI
- Lack of interface animations
- Oversharing can make you look like an alcoholic
I stay reasonably active on Foursquare, GetGlue, and Foodspotting, so as a check-in junkie, it's easy for me to love Untappd. I've been using it for awhile now, and the newest version adds a few new features and some additional polish. There are still some visual upgrades the app could stand to make, but the breadth of functions makes up for it; I'm just waiting for them to start partnering up with delivery services so you can order beer to your door through Untappd. There's plenty of room for expansion, too - the same engine could power social networks for wine, whiskey, other liquors, or hey, even non-alcoholic beverages.
Though you might not be particularly prone to sharing Untappd updates on Facebook all the time for fear of coming off as a perpetual drunk, there are some occasions where it's appropriate, and a natural thing to share for those that can appreciate the wide selection of flavors in the world of beer.
Download: Untappd (free)
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