The mania over the iPad has got me thinking about recipe apps, and how they could be better. This is what I’d like to see in my dream cooking app:

From the moment I choose my recipe, I don’t want to have to touch the iPad. Instead, voice activation would guide me through the steps. If you happened to be really slow, you could say “pause” or “repeat” to hear the step again. When I’m baking, I usually have to look back at the amount of baking soda about five times, so it would be nice to just ask, “How much baking soda?” and get a response. Bonus points: You could have the voices tailored to the dish you’re making—I’d love to hear an Elizabethan robot describe how to make a mincemeat pie.

The ideal app should also have built-in conversions and a robust reference section, just like a good cookbook does. Built-in is the key here, because while the iPad obviously has Internet connectivity, you can’t go between applications to look something up online (it has no multitasking capability). If a recipe says, “Add 150 grams sugar,” I want to be able to respond with “Convert to tablespoons.” Or if it says, “Now chiffonade the basil” and I have no idea what that means, I want to be able to ask and have it pull up a detailed answer or display one of those really quick and helpful CHOW Tips I love watching ;). A timer would also be nice.

When working from a cookbook, I often write notes, revise ingredients, and adjust proportions in the margins. I want the option in an app, too. And a grocery list is a must—when I select a recipe, it should send the ingredients list as a text or email to my mobile phone.

The fact that there is no camera on this version of the iPad is bewildering to me. Like the masses of food bloggers out there, I would like to snap a shot of my finished dish, especially since I’d already have the iPad positioned on a convenient tripod-like stand. The ideal app would automatically add the picture to my recipe, and give the option of posting it to social media platforms.

A cooking app like this may never come to be, but I’m sure there will be many that hit most of my desired points. But while I dream of life in the high-tech kitchen, I will be sad to eventually lose the physical connection with cookbooks, like looking at the index of my Joy of Cooking and seeing a small splatter of brisket juice from Rosh Hashanah 2006 or some dried frosting bits I made for a friend’s birthday cake. But I’m sure eventually there will be an app dedicated solely to dirtying your iCookbooks.

Image source: Flickr member Praireikittin under Creative Commons

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