It’s true that the best part of Christmas is “giving”, but this year reminded me that the “getting” part can also be pretty awesome. I got the complete series of Daria on DVD (after 3 out of the 6 discs, I am convinced that I’m the missing link between Daria Morgendorfer and Liz Lemon…) and an iPad.
Sure, the iPad is amazing and everyone wants one, but do you want to know the reason I was really excited about the iPad? The Martha Stewart Makes Cookies app!
You have to see this “reshuffle” trick on “The Cookie Runway” pictured above in action. I can’t do it justice by describing it — it’s just plain cool.
I know. I’m a big geek. Martha Stewart is also a big geek. Martha sees that things like blogging and tweeting are just another part of domestic life these days, and, true to form, shows us how to optimize these tools for ‘better living’. This is nothing new. Where did you hear of a Silpat? Probably on Martha Stewart Living. I remember thinking “$20 for a piece of plastic that does what a piece of parchment paper can do, are you nuts?” Now I have a Martha-branded Silpat, my cookies come out way better and I don’t feel guilty about contributing to global warming by using all that paper.
The iPad is a much more powerful tool, though. The iPad could revive the publishing industry. If the big publishing companies can create innovative ways of delivering their content, people will be more inclined to pay for the same content available for free all over the internet (few things printed in magazines today are not already on someone’s blog somewhere). The iPad is the perfect tool for the job. The iPad gives back the feeling of reading a magazine in your lap, while still delivering up-to-date content. The touch interface expands the interactive possibilities, and app developers are coming up with really exciting ways for us to use and play with this new functionality. The Martha Stewart Makes Cookies app is a beautiful example of how this “touch” interaction can make exploring familiar content a unique, fun, and very pleasant experience.
This is my favorite thing about this app. You can type in a classic search box to search for recipes, or you can use this awesome wheel, which reminds me of those low-tech spinny recipe dividers. It’s just a cool way to find something…
An unexpected surprise in this age of intellectual proprietarianism (yes, I made that word up), here is someone making it easy for you to share a recipe. Instead of sending your friends a link to a page that takes forever to load because it’s bogged down with ads for Lipitor, you just send the whole recipe in your email and a nice little note. Which feels more like sending a hand-written copy (or Xerox) of a recipe you got out of a cookbook or a magazine, which I like.
Also, like a cookbook, there are “margins” for you to write in (a “notes” field for each recipe) and dog-ear (you can mark recipes “favorites”). But it’s cooler because it’s interactive. You can tell it what you want to make and it will tally up your ingredients, write out a nice little organized list for you to take shopping and even tuck it in your purse for you (that is, if you get email on your phone, which I bet most iPad owners do).
It does other cool things (it’s worth the download to see them all in action), but the coolest thing it does is set a standard for user interface design and user experience that publishers and readers alike will gain from. It points to a bright future for publishing, one where maybe even Gourmet magazine enjoys a resurrection! Which would be great, because I’ll be honest — the two recipes I tried for cookies out of this app did not impress me much (cranberry coins and cranberry thumbprints). But, let’s face it, when you’re used to my Mom’s cookies, it’s hard to be impressed.