Matchbook App Helps You Remember Those Must-Try Restaurants

Matchbook App Helps You Remember Those Must-Try Restaurants

We all collect those little booklets of matches from restaurants. (Yes, the ones that are slowly taking over our junk drawers.) We even find them to have an old-school charm, compared to the mini blowtorch-like butane lighters that are now becoming the thing. But we digress.

The point is, matchbooks are nostalgic—they’re collectibles. Now, one app developer is taking the name and applying it to an app that collects all of the locations you want to remember. No more drawers full of matchbooks, unless you want them, of course. Matchbook the app launched in the spring of 2011, and with a few hefty updates, the app now offers its users deals for those must-try places on their lists too.

Jason Schwartz, Founder and CEO of Matchbook, says the app’s success has to do with its simplicity in both design and function. (The app is, in a sense, only enhancing the note-taking experience.) Matchbook is popular in major cities, but the beauty of this app is that it can really work anywhere—it uses foursquare’s API to find nearly any location around you.

If you think the concept of bookmarking is boring, think again. This is one of our new favorite apps. Here, we ask Schwartz how a bookmarking app is able to knock our socks off and what other features it plans to offer in the future.

  1. What was the inspiration for Matchbook? How did you aim to differentiate it from other bookmarking apps?

    The inspiration for the app itself came from observing a highly recurrent behavior. We would sit in bars and ask groups of people whether they used location services, which ones they used and how they remembered bars and restaurants. We kept seeing the same lists of bars, restaurants and shops appearing in the notepad of people’s phones—females in particular.

    I’ve been building software for over 10 years, and I see a lot of apps out there that try to invent new behaviors. The fact that Matchbook enhances an already occurring behavior is what differentiates us from other services.

    Our fiercest competitor is the notepad in your phone (or the Excel spreadsheet of restaurants we saw many of our users keeping prior to finding Matchbook). Our challenge is to get those people to turn that list into something more useful.

  2. Explain Matchbook’s plan for success pertaining to the new intent-based deals that launched in version 1.6. Why wouldn’t people be better off using Groupon or Living Social to obtain local deals, since they don’t need to know of a specific restaurant (and bookmark it) in order to discover its deal?

    Currently, the daily deal companies send out non-targeted emails to thousands of people with the expectation that it will be of interest to a small percentage of them. This model has proved effective so far, but we’re looking to improve that experience for both the service provider and our users.

    Each Matchbook account is a list of places our users want to go to, or somewhere they’ve been that they want to go back to. When you add in this intent-based information, the results are magical.  

    We say to our users, “You told us that you want to go to this place, so here’s a deal for it.” Not only do we see the rate of interaction increase by about 1,000%, but it’s the type of advertisement that’s welcomed by the users. They actually value it.

  3. You stated in a Fierce Developer interview that one of your goals is to “crack the social circles problem.” How is Matchbook planning on addressing this?

    The social model that app developers operate under is to encourage users to friend everyone and share everything.

    In the real world, people have many different social circles with varying levels of intimacy within them. In the current social-networking model, we treat everyone like they are in one giant social circle. People acutely feel this tension. In order for us to progress to the next stage of social, we need software to more accurately mimic how relationships work in the real world.

    The next iteration of Matchbook, which starts to introduce social, pays a lot of attention to creating intimate experiences. That is not to say we’ve cracked the social-circles problem, but it’s something we’re working towards.

    Over the summer we’ll be opening up an intimate network inside Matchbook, as well as further integrating with existing social networks. Twitter is definitely a part of the plan, but our eye is really on Pinterest. Pinterest is a great example of social sharing done right.  

  4. Matchbook offers desktop users a bookmarklet to bookmark interesting places they come across on their computers. What are your thoughts on cross-platform apps? Do you think we’ll see more apps offering seamless experiences from the desktop to the smartphone and to the tablet? Why or why not?

    I’m seeing more and more apps striving to do this. However, I don’t think it’s enough for apps to just be available across platforms. In our mind, there is an experience that Matchbook encapsulates. It works seamlessly from the second you read about a great place on your desktop to the moment you need a perfect place at your fingertips.

    To accomplish this, it’s important to recognize the use case that occurs when you’re using a specific type of device. It’s not just about the device’s functionality; it’s about the situation you’re using it in. I don’t know that we’ve completely mastered this, but we’re on our way.

  5. Can you share any insights into other updates Matchbook fans can expect to see in the future?

    We’re fortunate in that our users are passionate and vocal about telling us what they want. Once someone starts using Matchbook, they naturally want to see the great places their friends are finding. The ability to do this is something we’ll be introducing towards the end of the summer.

    Just this week, we released an update that allows you to split your list into places that you “Want to Go” and places that you “Went”. This was a very popular request from our users. This type of smart and simple categorization will start to emerge more in future updates. We’ll also be improving the cross-platform experience. The product roadmap is exciting—Matchbook will just keep getting better.

Bonus question:

Besides Matchbook, what is another one of your favorite apps currently, and why?

I think Pocket has done an amazing job in creating a seamless experience from the desktop to phone. Path is making great strides in creating the type of intimate experience that social is progressing towards. And being in the “Remember for Later” space, we are constantly impressed by what Evernote has achieved. It’s really incredible.

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Eating Healthy is a Snap with Dr. Oz’s App Pick

Photo credit: Getty Images

Dr. Mehmet Oz, famous cardiac surgeon and star of TV’s The Dr. Oz Show, spends much of his time giving nutritional guidance to his show’s viewers and patients. But we bet he never thought advice could get as simple as “take a picture of your food.”

Dr. Oz told USA TODAY that he likes the Meal Snap app. Just use your smartphone to take a photo of your food in front of you, and the app calculates how many calories you’re consuming. Bam—food recording is done.

Of course, the app is not always 100 percent accurate, but we still think the simple act of recording our food helps us be more conscious of what we’re eating. You can share your meals on Twitter, Facebook and foursquare if you want some extra motivation, and you can even view your eating patterns over time.