Sunday, June 5, 2016

Nomii Q&A with the developers

Last Friday I got the chance to sit down with Clement Wong and Shaun Wong, the developers behind Nomii. If you've read the VanCityBuzz interview article on Nomii, you'll already know what Nomii is about:
Ever see a plate of food photo on Yelp or Zomato and wonder “What the heck is this dish?” See an awesome restaurant or dish on Instagram you want to try only to forget about it later? Don’t trust reviews and 5 star ratings anymore?
If you answered yes to any of those questions, you’ll understand the three problems we’re solving:

  • Deciding where and what to eat
  • Having to sift through reviews, ratings, and comments to find the best dishes
  • Keeping track of restaurants and dishes you like or want to try
I thought about my own situation and the possible barriers to wanting to use Nomii. Right now, I'm on Zomato and Yelp, and basically have too much of a life to also try to engage my online presence as a food blogger on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. There's only so many hours in a day, and I've got better things to do. The question for myself was, "Would I use Nomii"? To answer that question, I tried to explore "What is Nomii" as it relates to me. Based on the responses I got from the devs, here are my impressions.

It's a Scrapbook for Foodies
Nomii organizes your foodie notes and outings. Of course you can make notes, but it puts all these notes in one place.
  • Suppose you are surfing Facebook and your friend posts a picture. You can't steal that picture, but you can at least make a note to yourself on Nomii to try that restaurant and that particular dish.
    • If it's already in their database, it gets easier.
    • Therefore if you add data, it gets easier for other people to use Nomii as well.
  • If you are stuck for where to go, you can open Nomii and it'll tell you what's nearby. If some of these places are on your to-try list, it'll tell you that too.
    • It helps you remember that you want to try a particular place.
    • It tells you what is nearby.
      • Which isn't anything special, of course since OpenTable can do that too, plus it will help you make a reservation and give you points toward a dining cheque. If you only want to see and go to their restaurants -- big IF.
  • Once you eat there, hopefully you will upload and properly label pictures of dishes.
    • This is hopefully something you naturally do to record your dining out experiences.
    • Adding pictures also helps other people use Nomii since they can now look through dish pictures -- hence helping you find what you were hoping to remember to eat there.
  • It doesn't bother with ratings. It's all about the food only, and the more people who recommend a dish, the more popular you can see that it is. That is supposed to help you make a decision.
    • Instead of reading reviews, you are supposed to look at how many people like a dish AND -- this is the important part -- follow people WHO ARE LIKE YOU in your food tastes.
    • How you actually discover who is "like you" in food tastes is a mystery and possibly so much trial and error that it's no better than looking at a Zomato or Yelp score. But the theory seems sound -- if you follow people are are similar to your tastes in food, then their recommendations will probably work out.
So back to "would I use it"?
  • Is there a Starbucks nearby? Nope? Too bad -- no WiFi.
    • This applies to all apps, so they are still on even footing with Yelp here.
  • Personally, I can see myself using it to research a restaurant, but there's obviously the initial problem of early adoption, which is a lack of content online -- YET. The key word here is "yet". If you are hoping for Nomii to already know all the restaurants around you... for an app that launched in May obviously it's not gonna be there yet, especially if you're not even in Vancouver, BC.
  • As for whether I'd continually add data and actually use it as a notebook/scrapbook -- there's a lot of duplicated effort here, as I'm already adding photos to Zomato, to Yelp, and to Flickr for my blog. Now I have to upload to Nomii too?
    • It had better be fast and easy. Instagram is NOT fast and easy and that's why I'm not on it.
    • It would be better if they gave me something for my effort. Like Yelp, which rewards Elites with special events and freebies.
    • Zomato was starting to reward their users with ZMUs (Zomato MeetUps) but that seems to have fizzled, at least for the Lower Mainland. In any case, syndicating my blog over there is very low-maintenance.
  • It claims to help you decide what to eat by how popular a dish is by crowdsourcing data. I'd need to get a sense for how they will weed out marketers -- restaurants uploading their own data, and internet marketers just trying to be popular.
  • I would also be interested in being able to find dishes based on criteria such as gluten-free or vegan or halal or peanut-free. However, crowdsourcing that sort of data is dangerous at best -- suppose someone is wrong about something being gluten-free, and you have a severe allergy to gluten. Who's going to step up and be liable?
If you missed the last Q&A with the developers at Secret Location, there will probably be another one soon, once their Android version is launched. Stay tuned, or message them on Facebook to set something up!

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