Zomato’s success in a niche field is a rarity. It is one of the few restaurant discovery platform with social features on a mobile phone (just giving you an idea of how niche this category is) to have made it in the volatile app space. Do we need another one? Well, Sharad Madiman and his team of passionate foodies definitely think so and hence Etable. In functionality, there isn’t much to tell it apart from the other players in the market, but it has approached the category in a different way. How has it done it and will it make a mark for itself in this Zomato dominated category? Read on to find out -
Etable, in its own words, aims to be the worlds best social network for food lovers across the world. This is subtly different to what other apps in this category have done. Its taken functions from Facebook and Twitter along with the regular search, information and review of restaurant functionalities as with other apps in this category. The emphasis is on the users of the app who can be followed and activities on the platform are displayed in very Facebook like news feed. To break it down, here’s a list of functions of the app -
- An activity feed of user activity on Etable – Called the Food Feed, this is an interesting part of the app which I spent the most time on. In the pretext of user activity, you have the chance to discover great restaurants. via check-ins, favorites, photos etc.
- Explore – An area based search for restaurants using a search box and GPS
- Check-in – Pretty self explanatory. Check into restaurants on the platform and add restaurants that are already not on the platform.
- Search – A search box for searching for restaurants by name.
- Personal Profile – With information such as the number of followers/following, loyalty status (still haven’t figured out what that is)
I think the community approach to this kind of a niche app is a great way to increase engagement. By keeping user activity feeds not restricted to one’s social circle, there is more to see, even for new users. The food feed, is something that you’d spend most time on. Given that this is the early stages of the app. most updates that I get is about who’s joined the network and not much food information. But the platform is definitely there. Explore and Search functionalities pretty much do the same thing. The two functions could have been integrated.
As functions, the app works just fine, but the app has a limited number of restaurants in it. For those living in Bangalore, you’d undertand this when I say that it only shows 7 restaurants for the whole of Indiranagar (which has a lot more restaurants), However, users can add restaurants to the system, so as the app’s user base increases, we could see more apps.
UI and UX
I have mixed feelings about the way this app looks. Its got an attractive color scheme. A kind of a Windows 8 blue. The typography isn’t consistent through the app, but the one’s that have been used go well with each other. Food Feed, the main part of the app is designed much like the Facebook app – tiles which carry information about user activity. The profile tab also has a facility to publish a status, which I personally think could have been a feature on the Food Feed page. It could have increased user engagement.
The app has tabs at the bottom which look very nice but there is always the argument of wasted screen real estate. As with many apps in the market, the tabs can be made to retract while scrolling (The Facebook app does so). Furthermore, the Check in tab is slightly jutting out, which sometimes confuses you about the tab that you’re on. Also, with adjacent tabs, I sorely miss the sideways swipe functionality. I love the way the notifications display in this app. A small circular icon with numbering inside it, which when clicked pop’s up a list of notifications that can be scrolled through.
Facebook logic is a done via web, which can be avoided by using the Facebook SDK. Overall, a good looking app with an average user experience.
What we liked
We love the fact the Etable has decided to take up being an app in this category. On first looks, it is easy to dismiss this as an app like a wannabe Zomato, but it is anything but. It does share some functionalities with other more successful apps in its category, and these other apps do it better as well. Here are some things that we really likes about the app -
- The social aspect of the apps is really engaging and will appeal to foodie-smartphone users.
- Allows user curation of restaurants, which again means more engagement.
- A good looking app.
What we didn’t like
The category this app aims for is a very small niche. The smartphone using foodie might be hard to come by and the app’s success, because of its dependence on the social aspect, depends on the number of users. Other than this, here are some things that could have been done better in Etable -
- Some tweaks in UX such as the tabs, integrating the Facebook SDK and swipe functionality.
- I think more effort by Etable itself needs to be put into getting data about restaurants in at least the major cities.
As an app, there isn’t much that is wrong with Etable. But as an idea, Etable is addressing a micro-niche of the smartphone user population. Much like Instagram, which aimed to be Facebook for photos, Etable could also be aiming to be that for food places across the world. There isn’t a restriction on where this app is used and with the user curation of restaurants that the app allows, it can be a global community for foodies, if there is a massive uptake of Etable by smartphone users across the world. If, being the key word.