Version Reviewed: 2.0
iPhone Integration [rating:5/5]
User Interface [rating:5/5]
Re-use / Replay Value [rating:5/5]
[img id="img_000413-200x300.png"]Putting together a grocery list is a weekly (and sometimes painful) thing around my house. It starts out with meal planning and then with the evaluation of our pantry. Traditionally I have used the standard list pad and struggled with my pen while bagging produce and pushing a cart. Over the last year I have played with several apps on my iPhone in an attempt to streamline the process. Some were a little too simple, and some were too complex or buggy. Groceries is a shopping list app that leans in the simple direction but chooses its features wisely. The process of making a list within its interface is familiar in seconds.
Creating a List and Shopping
When you open Groceries, you will be greeted by what looks to be a piece of notepad paper hastily acquired and attached to a stylized cork board. The paper suggests tapping the plus button to add items to a list. Once you've done so, you can easily edit quantities by pressing the button to the right of each item. Touching the name of the item removes it from the list of remaining items. I particularly liked that Groceries has both the remaining items list and a list of all items on your list. This prevents accidental removal of items. Further, Groceries' removal animation takes about two seconds, allowing you time to see a mistake and correct it over in the "All" category. For basic list management, the edit button allows you to select items and delete them from your active list or to reorganize their location to different aisles of the store you frequent with just two clicks. This is a good example of the streamlined user interface that separates this from so many others who would force you to reorganize from the database instead of the active list. If you're done shopping the app displays a "You're done shopping!" cheerfully and a Start Over button is always present to reset your list. I also appreciate that the developer didn't feel the need for landscape view, which has made me scream at other note and list software on the occasional trip.
The main screen is very focused, with the only other function (outside of list creation and management) being the option to email the chore to anyone. Another nice touch here is that the list you email is formatted in the Groceries style (sans cork board) and seems to display pretty well in other email clients (but perfectly in the mobile Mail.app).
Other Options and Thoughts
Further customization is available in the iPhone Settings section under Groceries. This lets your decide if you want to group by aisle, display a badge on the application icon, customize double and triple taps, and customize the database with brands (though I haven't seen many brand names in the list) or start with a blank database.
I only have a couple of criticisms and they're tiny. In the list view there are little flecks of brown on the (very white) list. These are so well done that they actually made me think that my screen was dirty. They continue to be a slight annoyance every time that I look closely. I'm not sure why they bother me so much, as I'm not usually the type to have this sort of reaction. It's a aesthetic decision though, and the designer has done so much right that I can't really complain. Additionally, I'd love the option to add stores with aisle layouts and to change stores mid-list. As it is, the aisle layout is universal.
Everything about this application perfectly suits my shopping style. Others may have different demands in mind, but I found that I could instantly find my way around the app without any prompting and that it seems capable of decreasing the time and energy I have to spend. More than that, its interface defends the list against errant touches and allows a reset if something happens and I have to abort my trip mid-cart.
This isn't a meal planning or trip organization application. Though I'd love for Sophiestication Software to expand into those realms, Groceries does just what it should, just as it should, and that's a rare thing. I appreciate the thought and restraint that went into creating something this easy to use. I'll be using Groceries to compile every food or household-related list in the future.