App Review: Next Glass
It’s been a while since we’ve done an app review. However, the app Next Glass recently caught my attention because it claims it will be able to tell you if you’ll like a beer or wine before you buy it. Next Glass does this by examining the chemistry of the beer.
The first thing it has you do is create an account. No surprise there since it’s going to figure out your customized preferences. I linked it to the Beers and Ears Twitter account (no surprise there either most likely) and off I went.
Immediately after creating an account it asks you to build your profile. A list of beverages scrolls by and you can rate them from 1-4 stars. There’s also a search option to add your own favorites. If you aren’t familiar with the beverage, you can use the More button next to it to see more from that brewery or winery. Also, you can filter beer, wine, or both. After running across a wine I had never had, I switched to beer only pretty quickly.
After so many ratings (I didn’t keep count), it tells you that you’ve rated enough and can either start scanning or continue rating. I kept rating several more beers. Being used to half-star ratings in other apps, the simple 1-4 star system bothered me here. Chimay Blue, for example, I probably would have given 3.5 stars but I rounded up to 4. There’s less flexibility in Next Glass than in the beer rating apps.
Once you’ve finished your rating profile, Next Glass gives you a scanning tutorial. For this, you need to get a very close picture of the bottle’s label. The first bottle I scanned was The Bruery’s Tart of Darkness. Next Glass incorrectly identified it as Saison Rue. Both are delicious but very different beers. The pencil button will let you change the beer, but Tart of Darkness wasn’t an option. Trying to rescan it at different distances from the bottle shows that it relies heavily on finding The Bruery logo and the rest of the label less so. Searching manually shows Tart of Darkness isn’t in their database at all, which explains why it isn’t an option. In the settings there is a form to request a wine or beer; it seems Next Glass does analyze every beer and wine in their database. I have to wonder how much of a burden that will be with the various distribution arrangements and regional availability.
Let’s try again. I have a 750ml bottle of Boulevard Beer’s Tank 7, one of the new beers at Disney World (review coming later). This one is in their database; it was even one of the beers I was asked about when I started my profile. However, the scan doesn’t work at all. Perhaps their image is based on a 12 ounce bottle? The option to search manually is available and a 61.7 rating comes up. At the bottom, you can rate the beer, see your friends’ scores, or see related beers.
Overall, Next Glass is a good idea, but at this point its usefulness seems limited. Perhaps for the most popular beers it will be helpful, but for the beer you’ve never heard of by a small brewery, it will probably be less helpful. The scanning feature the app revolves around also seems limited as it does not allow for a scan from a differently sized bottle. Perhaps we’ll see improvements over time, but the current feature set in the app and the beer selection available need refinement.