Mic WrightReporter, TNW
Mic Wright is a journalist specialising in technology, music and popular culture. He lives in Dublin. He is on Twitter at @brokenbottleboy. Mic Wright is a journalist specialising in technology, music and popular culture. He lives in Dublin. He is on Twitter at @brokenbottleboy.
Instagram can be hell if you’re hungry. The photo-sharing social network is full of people sharing the delicious dishes they’ve just whipped up as well as ridiculously well posed restaurant fare.
The trouble is, while there are millions of posts about food, actually searching for them and connecting images to recipes isn’t easy. Instagram’s native search just isn’t up to the job.
That’s where Handpick (for Android and iOS) comes in. While the food discovery app has been around since 2013, it got really useful this week.
The app’s original aim was to reduce the amount of food waste in the world by making it easy for people to find things to make with the ingredients they have in cupboards. Now it’s tapping into Instagram to super-charge that mission.
Handpick CEO Payman Nejati explains:
Instagram is effectively a database of over 1 billion food posts. We started analyzing that data through the public API and using computer vision, we know whether a post is about food.
We then look at the caption and use that information to match recipes to social media posts.
Because of the sheer number of potential posts that could appear in your Handpick feed, the company uses a combination of algorithmic decisions and human curation:
Most of our curation happens through data science – understanding what the photo and caption mean, seeing if it was liked many times, were the comments positive – but then our content manager curates the feed to get the best of the best into the app.
From my experience with Handpick, it works really well. The photo feed serves up a good mix of options, from dishes easy enough for a kitchen klutz like me to attempt to more elaborate creations.
Tapping through from an enticing image takes you through to a page showing you the necessary ingredients and related recipes, as well as linking you to the original Instagram poster.
The best feature though is the “Ingredients” screen, where you can input what you’ve actually got in your kitchen and get recipe suggestions.
It shows suggestions of other food items that pair well with your selections as you add them and is really well designed with clear images and an intuitive UI.
As you might expect, you can also save recipes you like in the app’s “Topics” section. You can make those collections private or choose to share them with everyone, as well as following other people to keep track of their collections.
I’m someone who tends to be fairly lazy and unadventurous when it comes to cooking, but Handpick has definitely inspired me to try harder. If you’re seeking culinary inspiration, it’s definitely worth trying.
Read next: 50 food & cooking apps that rock the kitchen
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