Denver-based Forkly, the iPhone app that encourages users to share photos of what they're eating while out and rate the dish, debuted a new look Friday with its 2.0 update, one that will be familiar to users of one of the most popular photo apps around.
Users of Instagram will get that familiar feeling when they update to Forkly's new version: a feed with bigger food photos, with "Want It" and "Comment" instead of Instagram's usual "Like" or "Comment" buttons. Forkly's developers and designers have improved their app with this update, and you'll likely find yourself thumbing through photos shot by your friends longer than you would with the original incarnation.
"Some of that is on purpose, but obviously the functionality is quite different," says co-founder Brady Becker of the comparison to Instagram. "The idea was that you're able to see big pictures of food and record your opinion, and we could use that information to do all sorts of cool stuff, like show you customized menus and provide a better dining experience all around."
As for that dining experience, there's some new tech under the hood of the app. "We launched [Forkly] in September and this is kind of like the next incarnation of where we want to go in terms of providing a layer of intelligence on top of menus," Becker explains.
Translated, that "intelligence" means Forkly will aggregate data from other users to show you the most popular dish or drink, as well as remind you of stuff you "want" or that you've "had" -- if you've clicked the "Want" or "Had" buttons next to a dish.
According to Becker, who some may remember as a founder of Brightkite ("Foursquare before there was Foursquare," he says), this new version of Forkly is in the coveted "New and Noteworthy" section of the iTunes app store.
Android users will have to wait a little longer. "We are planning on releasing Android at some point, but we'd like to perfect the product on one device," Becker says. "We'd rather get it right on the iPhone, but you can expect Android within this year, most likely."
So how popular is Forkly? Becker keeps the download numbers close to the vest, but does divulge that Denver, New York and San Francisco are usage hot-beds, as are some locales abroad.
"London is big. Saudi Arabia is big. Select areas across Asia and a lot of stuff from Spain and Italy. The food countries," Becker says, noting that users aren't just American tourists, because the updates are in different languages. Forkly plans to localize apps in those popular languages over the next six months.
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Locally, Forkly employs a handful of people at its 1822 Blake Street office (above Vesta Dipping Grill) and two developers based in San Francisco. (And like many tech companies in the Denver metro area, it's hiring.)
As for the mood in Forkly's office after the update's release, Becker says, "Everyone is ecstatic and it's great to see people getting excited about discovering food and the new app."
No iPhone? Becker says a "full web experience" will be available soon, so you'll be able to browse the entire library of food porn from around the globe from your web browser.