Cafe Society

Forkly, an iPhone app made in Denver, will suggest what to order

You're at a restaurant. The menu is big and overwhelming, and all you want to know is, "What's good?" Forkly, a free iPhone app that launched today, wants to answer that question -- as well as the even more elusive "What will I like?"

"Martin and I like to build products that really fulfill our own needs," co-creator Brady Becker says of the project he launched with Martin May. "We were fed up having to go through five-star reviews and Yelp to find something to eat, especially when you're out and hungry." Most of the beta-users were based in Denver, so there's already a substantial amount of information on the city.

Here's what the app, made by Denver-based Forkly Inc., does:

If you let the app know your location, it'll let you know which restaurants are close by and ranks them according to an algorithm that considers the number of ratings, average ratings, the items rated and the restaurant's proximity. The "want" function on the app allows you to save dishes for later and will remind you when you're close to a restaurant with your wanted dishes. "It's sort of like a bookmark for food," Becker says.

Aside from which restaurants others have liked, you'll also be able to see the dishes guests have "loved" at that restaurant, augmented by (mostly poorly lit) cell-phone photos of what to expect. The system should be able to recommend dishes not just based on general consensus, but based on which plates that other users with tastes similar to yours have liked. This will become more accurate the more you, and other users, use the app, Becker promises.

The app encourages you to rate and take pictures of the dishes you're eating. For each dish you rate, you get influence points that can lead you to a title of "Top Influencer." Perks for that include secret menu items, parties and other to-be-determined promotions.

There are functions that allow you to share what you're eating via Facebook and Twitter; you can also follow the likes and dislikes of other users, like you would with Tweets. "In the real world, you get all your recommendations, especially the good ones, from your friends," Becker says, and they wanted to re-create that on the virtual realm.

To stay current, the app allows users to go in and add new items, as well as mark things that are no longer available. Brands that partner with Forkly (which include Great Divide and ChoLon) can do the same.

The app is currently only available for the iPhone; the developers are waiting to see how that works before expanding to Android or another platform.

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Jenny An
Contact: Jenny An