Foodspotting is like Foodily without the recipes. Or Instagram solely for meals of food. In fact, you can connect your Instagram account to Foodspotting, and Instagram photos tagged with #food or #foodspotting will show up in your Foodspotting feed. (Maybe I need to wait longer for the two to sync, but the Instagram photo I tagged with the #foodspotting tag has yet to show up in my Foodspotting feed.) The app lets you upload photos of dishes you feel are worth a mention. You can follow friends who are using the app, restaurants in your area, and specific foods such as burgers, fish tacos, or BBQ. You can also follow other sources, including celebrity chefs such as Wolfgang Puck, the Travel Channel, and various city guides.
To get started, you will need to sign up with an e-mail or via Facebook. The app will ask you to allow it to know your location; say yes and you'll soon see photos of dishes in your area that other Foodspotting users have uploaded.
Five buttons run along the bottom of the screen:
1. The Browse button lets you view a swipeable belt of photos. On each photo, you'll see the name of the dish, where it's from, and the distance from your current location. Foodspotting must still be working out some kinks with GPS because it told me a dish called Onion Aloo Paratha from the Neel Giri Hotel in Dungarpur, Rajeshthan, India, is 1.3 miles from me. I've not been there, but I'm pretty sure it's a bit farther than 1.3 miles from Concord, NH. Other international locations also show up in my Nearby feed. At the top of the Browse screen are three buttons to adjust your view: Nearby, Latest, and Best.
You can nominate ("nom" in Foodspotting's parlance) a dish that looks particularly appealing, and you can mark it as something you want or tell the author that it's a Great Shot or a Great Find. Dishes that receive noms will get a blue ribbon affixed to their photo and will show up first when you are viewing the best dishes in your area. When viewing a dish, below the photo are links to the person who spotted the dish and the restaurant or establishment it's from. Tap on person or location and you'll see a Follow button, which you can tap to add that person or location to your feed.
2. The Find button lets you search by food, restaurant, or location. Below the search bar are two options for filtering the Browse screen. You can view just the photos that your followers have uploaded or view only the dishes for which you've expressed a desire to want. If you search by keyboards, you'll be returned to the Browse screen with that keyword replacing "See what's nearby." You can tap the X next to your search term on the Browse screen to remove the filter.
3. Like Instagram, the middle button takes you to the camera function. Instead of being labeled Share, it's labeled Spot. You can either snap a picture or grab one from your camera roll. After snapping or selecting a photo, you can resize it a bit and then Foodspotting will ask, Where did you find it? and What is it? and What did you think?
4. With the Guides button, you can view various food guides from cities near you. I saw general guides such as Zagat's Most popular restaurants in Boston and GrubHub's New York's Top 25 Delivery Restaurants and more specific guides such as the Ultimate Trail of Nachos in NYC and neighborhood guides such as the Top 10 Dishes in Queens. You can view these lists from the Guides screen, and you can follow guides so any future activity they make on Foodspotting will show up in your feed.
5. Tap the Follow button to build your feed. You can follow people, places, and foods. The app will search Facebook, Twitter, and your iPhone contacts for friends using Foodspotting. Below these options is your feed.
From here, you can also access your account settings to set up or restrict e-mail and push notifications. To configure e-mail or to connect Foodspotting to Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, Flickr, or Instagram, follow this path: Profile > Account > Settings. One thing you can't do in settings is upload a profile picture; you'll need to head to Foodspotting.com for such customization.
The Foodspotting app will improve as it gains users. Right now, I don't think I'll use it much in my small hamlet of Concord, NH. Denizens of larger metropolitan areas, however, might have better luck.