There’s no shortage of restaurant review apps on the market, but none combine design and personalized recommendations like Ness. The app is for anyone who consults Yelp before every meal, and then jumps over to Instagram to check out photos of the restaurant, café or bar in question. Instead of switching between apps, Ness integrates your Foursquare, Facebook and, most recently, Instagram accounts into its highly personalized review system, making it a solid one-stop destination for dining advice.
While Ness’ recent addition of Instagram gave it a design advantage over competitors like Yelp and Fondu, its easy-to-use and highly accurate rating system is its true strength. Ness CEO Corey Reese was inspired to create the app because he felt that other review apps failed to capture his culinary preferences accurately. He recalls an experience of landing in New York’s JFK airport after taking the redeye from California and being unable to find an app that could lead him to a cup of coffee comparable to San Francisco’s Blue Bottle.
Desperate, he took to Facebook and asked his friends for recommendations. “I was a little bit let down by the apps that were out there because I got the sense that they didn’t know my taste,” says Reese.
Ness, which became available last year, tailors its reviews to users’ tastes through its “likeness score.” Based on users’ previous reviews, Ness will predict their propensity to like new restaurants in terms of percentage (Blue Bottle Coffee: 84%). Similar to rating systems available on Netflix and Pandora, users rate restaurants out of five stars and the more places they rate, the better Ness’ recommendations become.
With the integration of Instagram, Ness made over two million photos available to its users. “We think we’re the first of our competitors to have this level of photographic content. We really try to have a strong aesthetic and design,” says Reese.
The app does require a certain amount of integration with your other social networks, which may lead some to be wary of over-sharing or adding to the array of tools it takes to get through daily life. But for those moments when you’re hungry and want to find a reliable recommendation, any app that can intelligently predict the best available spot is OK by us.