Members of OK Go and The Embassy Create a Localization App for Fellow Travelers

Members of OK Go and The Embassy Create a Localization App for Fellow Travelers

When we first reviewed inBloom, we were thrilled to find a local-search app solely devoted to eco-friendly and organic listings, however we were a bit bummed to learn that the app was limited to the New York City area. Since it's launch in January of this year, though, inBloom's massive praise from its equally eco-conscious users has helped expand the app's database to more cities. It launched in Austin just in time for SXSW, and according to its website, it is scheduled to grace the residents of Los Angeles, San Francisco and Chicago later this month.

So who are the brains behind inBloom? Yes, they are eco-conscious souls, but they are also big names in the music world. Andy Ross of OK Go and Eytan Oren of Eytan and the Embassy created the app as a response to their personal struggles finding sustainable businesses and special dietary restaurants while on the road touring. Now they, other traveling musicians and every app user can find eco-friendly businesses from gas stations to restaurants that are paleo-friendly, vegan, locavore and more.

We caught up with musician/developer Eytan Oren (the former Google employee entered each business into inBloom's database by hand in the beginning) to discuss inBloom's success in the app world as well as new launches and updates we can expect to see soon.

  1. How did you come up with the app’s name, inBloom?

    We had a few names in contention, but inBloom seemed to work on a number of levels. It conveys positivity and motion, it relates to agriculture and sustainability, and it’s one of our favorite Nirvana songs.

  2. Which search category in inBloom do you use most often to find new places, and what's your favorite feature about the app?

    I’m a vegetarian, so I use the Eat quick-search category most. 

    I’m pretty proud of the filtering capabilities we set up—we collected and organized detailed information that you won’t find anywhere else. It’s a lot of fun to be able to see what businesses nearby are powered by renewable energy or have 100% grass-fed beef.  We also have some new features in the works, like social sharing and check-ins that will add a more communal layer to the app. That update will happen early Spring 2012.

  3. What do you think is the biggest trend in mobile app development right now and why?

    There are so many important trends in the app world that it’s hard to pick the biggest. For me personally, indoor mapping is an especially interesting area that I expect to take off in the next year. I’m excited to see all the opportunities that develop in that arena. It’s really the next phase for location-based services.

  4. What app developer or company’s work inspires you and why?

    I learned a lot from working at Google, and I find myself regularly taking inspiration from Google as we work on this app.  Firstly, we’re gathering and organizing information and making it more accessible, which is a very Google type of undertaking. But, more importantly, that commitment to a great user experience is definitely something I picked up there, and we’ve worked hard to refine the app on that level.

  5. Besides inBloom, what’s your favorite app and why?

    Andy and I both love Shazam. It’s simple, it has that fun, big button, and it always feels like a great magic trick when it tells you the name of the song you’re listening to. There’s also a lot of room for expansion with the app in terms of TV and branding integration, so it’s exciting to see where they’re going with it.

Bonus Question:

Can we get an ETA on the Android version?

That’s a great question, and it’s something we’re talking about right now.  I don’t have an exact date, but I would hope to see an Android version in the next six months. 

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Apps I Love

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.