Grocery shopping is one the few chores that I actually don't mind so much. The reason is, I make a list, get what's on it and get out. I guess I'm a typical guy when it comes to shopping. I've been using a different grocery list until I came across Grocery iQ and the quite frankly the difference is night and day!
They had me at "barcode scanning"
Grocery iQ takes the pain out of creating a shopping list. One of the things that immediately attracted me to this app was the ability to create your list by simply scanning the barcodes of the items that you need to buy. You can of course add things manually, or even type in the barcode (great for iPod touch owners), but being able to add just about everything to my list without ever touching the keyboard was phenomenal! This is one of those few apps that I really can't find anything wrong with. Every time I went to look for a feature, it was there!
So many features I don't know where to begin
It's clear that the developers of Grocery iQ really put a lot of thinking into this app. They thought of everything that I could think of and they wrapped it in a great easy to use interface as well.
You can not only create multiple stores but you can also even rearrange the isles for each store and eliminate the isles that your store doesn't have. For example, I doubt that "Better Health" has a "Beer" isle.
Rearranging the isles to match the store has a hidden benefit. It automatically rearranges your list in the order of the isles to speed up shopping. For example the Bread is in isle 2 of my Kroger grocery store. So when I moved the bread isle the bread moved to the second spot on the list automatically for that store.
The app finds coupons based on your location. Once you select the coupons you want you have the option of printing them to an HP WiFi printer or emailing them to yourself to print on any printer.
Unfortunately there isn't an option to bring up the coupon on screen with a barcode for scanning at checkout. Also it's unfortunate that ti doesn't support direct printing to more kinds of printers. However, the email option is fine.
This one gives a while new meaning to "bring home milk." If you have a partner/spouse that you live with and you both have iPhones or iPod touch's you can setup list sharing right in the app by creating a free account. You are automatically hosting your lists with the people that you're sharing with and your lists show up on their devices and vice-versa. This is really cool! "Hey I headed to the grocery store. You want anything?"
Then they just add the items using their iPhone/iPod touch and by the time you get their you will have the items in your list. Grocery iQ also supports Push Notifications so that if either person updates the list(s) the other person will get a popup message.
Speaking of adding to the list
The barcode scanning just feels like cheating. It works so fast and accurately. Looks like the same technology as the popular RedLaser app but I can't say for sure. In any case this was the single feature that made me drop my other app on the spot. Of course you can enter items manually. You won't always have a barcode for the item you want to add.
You can also key in the barcode number in case you're doing this on an iPod touch that doesn't have a camera. Once you scan the barcode you'll hear a beep and Grocery iQ will look up your item on the internet, bring down the description and the box shot. Now if it could only look up the price at your store then we would really have a killer app! However, you can add the price for each item manually and it's a good idea to do it right then in there while you've got the item in your hand. If you do add the prices in, you'll get a nice estimated total of what you're about to spend before you go shopping. Very cool!
The stuff you would expect
As you check off items on the list hey drop down to the bottom. Once you've bought everything on the list you can tap "Check Out" and the list will be cleared. The items that were on the list will be added to your History so that you can add them again in the future without scanning again. You can also mark items as "Favorites" to get to them quickly.
Putting Grocery iQ to the test
So I decided to really see how this app would hold up on a shopping trip to my local grocery store (Kroger). My goal was to test as many features as possible while at the same time doing a little shopping. So I started the list at home by scanning a few items that I needed. For the ones that I had prices for I put them in on the spot. The I had my wife add something to my list and it was something that I didn't even know what the packaging looked like. The next time I looked at my list the item was there. I got to the store and immediately started arranging the isles in the order they were in the store. I also checked off items as I put them in the basket, added missing prices and scanned new items that I either buy regularly or was going to buy on this trip. It all worked fine. The only problem I had was I tried to add a case of water to the list that apparently I had already added to the list of another store. Grocery iQ didn't like this nor did it warn me about it. The item just would never appear on my Kroger list. I finally figured that it must not like it being on the other list so I deleted it and it let me add it then. However, it was weird because it still didn't show up on the actual Kroger list. Every attempt to add it from that point on popped up a window that said that it was already on the list. It wasn't until I got home that I realize that it never really deleted from the first list. Could have been user error or just a fluke. Otherwise the app rocked! Also the total at checkout was very close to being on the money! It was within a few dollars of the Grocery iQ total. Keep in mind that I bought the water which wasn't in the total and I have a discount store card that subtracted a few bucks that Grocery iQ wouldn't know about. Overall it was a very pleasant experience and more importantly having this app kept me from "over buying". I wasn't just throwing a bunch of stuff in the cart (like usual).
The Bottom Line
This app freakin' rocks! I'm always blown away when an app works exactly like I want it too and takes advantage of the iPhone/iPod platform in clever ways. This app is definitely a TOP NOTCH APP and you should "just get it!."
However, I'm going to have to give it 4 out of 5 stars because I feel the coupon thing could be handled a little better with more printer support and perhaps a feature that lets you check off all the ones you want and then email a single PDF for printing. Also I gotta believe that there has to be away to avoid the whole printing thing altogether. Just thinking about it, how cool would it be if it "automatically" alerted me to coupons based on what I added to the list? That would save me the trouble of looking through the available coupons each time just to see if there is one that I might use.
Another smaller nit is that there doesn't seem to be much control over the Push Notifications. They are either on or off, and I don't see the standard controls over turning on/off the popups and perhaps even specifying what actions would cause a notification. Otherwise this app is a no brainer.