A while ago I reviewed the OpenTable app, learning how OpenTable helps people to manage their restaurant bookings. I then came across Uncover, an iOS app which lets users “Discover and book London’s most desirable restaurants. Tonight.” The phrase “most desirable restaurants” sparked my interest. It will be good to see how Uncover’s focus on London’s top restaurants is reflected in their app:
- How did this app come to my attention? – I read an article in City AM which talked about Uncover and the business behind it.
- My quick summary of the app (before using it) – This is a restaurant booking site, concentrating on top – usually hard to get in to – London restaurants. I expect to be able to book restaurants where I’d normally struggle to get a table.
- How does the app explain itself in the first minute? – The messaging on Uncover’s opening screen is pretty clear: “Everyday we hand-pick a shortlist of London’s most desirable restaurants just for you.” There’s a call to action for the user to sign up to Uncover. I skip that step for now, as I’m not a big fan of signing up for services where I’m not yet sure about the benefits.
- Getting started, what’s the process like? – The interface is easy and looks nice. I like the simplicity of showing me appealing images of nearby restaurants to have lunch or dinner. The restaurants displayed seems to be based on my location. The information provided per restaurant on this view is basic but sufficient: cuisine, area, indication of how expensive, available time slots and number of people (see Fig. 2 below). Although Uncover’s imagery is nice and appealing, I feel that the app could work harder in convincing users that a specific restaurant is high end or ‘must go’. For example, an excerpt from a restaurant review in The Observer stating “The Spanish staff are giggly and charming. It’s done with conviction, and it doesn’t take much to buy into the conceit” doesn’t really make me want to book at this restaurant right now (see Fig. 3 below).
- How easy to use was the app? – Very easy. I particularly liked the discovery feature where users can search for restaurants based on factors such as “neighbourhoods”, “romantic”, “hidden gems” and “hustle & bustle” (see Fig.4 below). I also like that I can save restaurants to my wish list.
- How does the app compare to similar apps? – I see Reserve as a very similar app to Uncover, albeit that Reserve concentrates on the US. There are two features on Reserve that I particularly like. Firstly, the ability for users to rate their dining experiences. Getting sense of how people felt about a restaurant helps me to make a decision. Secondly, I like the fact that when Reserve takes your card details, you don’t have to pay at the end of the meal. No faffing with the bill or trying to get the waiter’s attention, you could in principle just get and leave as Reserve takes care of payment for you.
- Did the app deliver on my expectations? – Yes and no. I expected an app with great imagery of nice restaurants, making you want to book immediately. Uncover definitely delivers on that expectation. However, I expect upcoming iterations of this app to focus more on discovery and personalisation.
Fig. 1 – Screenshot of the opening screen of the Uncover app
Fig. 2 – Screenshot of the main view on the Uncover app
Fig. 3 – Screenshot of a restaurant description on Uncover
Fig. 4 – Screenshot of Uncover’s discovery feature
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