This app was just recently released so I was keen to have a look at it. It is a free app that provides a mobile interface with the www.huonhooke.com subscription based website. With this subscription, you can also access the web site without the app which is a useful additional benefit.
The very first thing that comes up when you open the app is Huon’s Top Drops which is fine but not quite as welcoming as a landing page that allows you the choice of destination, particularly the first time you use the app.
The search function for the wine reviews is logical allowing you to drill down by ‘Price’, ‘Variety’ or ‘Region’ or using a free text search. The results when displayed are a mixture of Huon’s in gold text with contributions from the public from Corkscore in black text.
There is a nice flow with the search results. The winery name that comes up as a result allows you to flow through to find more wines from that winery and a regional search can lead on to searching for other wineries from that region.
Each wine has been benchmarked against similar wines from the region and there is also a vintage chart, an average rating across vintages and an average rating across the winery. This makes identifying the best wines from each region very easy.
The ‘My Reviews’ feature is easy to use & most importantly, you can keep your reviews private without adding it to Corkscore. You can choose to ‘write a review’ for a wine from the wine record you are reading & all the details such as wine name etc carries across. Alternatively, you can add a review for a wine not in the database using the ‘My Reviews’ button on the menu. If you like to see peer reviews, then this is the app for you. Personally, if I purchase an app from a prominent wine writer such as this, I am not really interested in reviews from other people & find this style of content a distraction.
Shareability across the app is good, although you cannot share Huon’s reviews. Connectivity to wineries is limited in this version. There are not as many wineries as I would like to see with direct links from the app. For those without URLs, you have to search for the winery in your browser separately leaving the app. The wineries with a link can be either linked through within the app or you can choose to see the site using safari.
While I like the continuous updatability available with web based apps, I have found connectivity to be completely unreliable. Even in my area where 3G reception is very good, the connection with the site keeps falling over &/or freezing. I could not even get connection in one of the suburbs within clear view of the Sydney Harbour Bridge. I would hate to be trying to use it while travelling around a wine region with such patchy service.
I think that this app is a good one for a wine lover who enjoys reading a range of reviews from peers as well as from a wine writer. There are some interesting features such as the benchmarking feature but I cannot get excited about the web based nature of the app. It may just be too early for this style of app in Australia, but I am very interested in others thoughts on this.
(itunes for iphone/ipad)