Are you a fancy diner who is environmentally conscious, an avid follower of the MBA Seawatch program, but want to stop using the paper? Maybe you're interested in doing your part to help stop the over-fishing of our oceans? If so, then the new application from Monterey Bay Aquarium is perfect for you.
Seafood Guide is exactly what it sounds like. It is a guide on your iPhone or iPod Touch that displays all sorts of useful information about the fish that you are about to eat. Look at the danger to each fish, examine the reasons, and even show your waiter what the fish you want looks like. Yep, Seafood Guide can do all of this, and more. Oh, and did I mention it is free?
Seafood Guide is a well designed and polished application for your iPhone. With an easy-to-use interface, and simple flick-based scrolling, the Guide is a perfect example of a minimalist take on an application. Plus, they are planning on making it work in both landscape and portrait views via the iPhone Accelerometer. Though it is lacking in full-fledged features, Seafood Guide is a fully-functioning program and does exactly what it was intended to do. That is, Seafood Guide makes sure that you can get the data that you need, when you need it, no matter where you are.
One of the nice features about Seafood Guide is that it can work literally anywhere. While the images are only available if you have an Internet connection (hopefully this will be fixed in an update), all of the other data is stored on your iPhone or iPod Touch. This is essential, as you are not always going to have Internet connections available. If you are on a cruise ship, an airplane, or an expensive restaurant in the bottom of a concrete structure (I am sure that there is one someplace), you are still able to be careful and concerned about what you eat. This is essential for any concerned citizen, be they a marine biologist or merely a person going out on a date.
Another nice aspect of Seafood Guide is how all of the data is handled and presented. When you first start the application, you are presented with a selection of regions (and Sushi), which you can use to limit your choices. While this might seem odd, as it keeps you from being able to look through the entire database, most places only serve specific seafood based on the location; odds are that you will not encounter Hirame in Ohio. This layout helps to keep the application clean and makes it easier to use.
While the minimalist approach is all nice and dandy, my favorite feature of Seafood Guide is the actual data contained within each entry. From Halibut to Basa, everything that I want to know is laid out at my fingertips. I can discover the rating of my seafood (Best Choice, Avoid, Good Alternative), information on how they are caught and where, and other fun trivia tidbits. I can also see health warnings, like the Mercury levels in Dogfish, which helps protect myself and my girlfriend. Additionally, I can see a summary of the fish, which allows me to fully understand why it is rated as it is. It is one thing to know that I shouldn’t eat Mahi Mahi, it is another to know that eating them contributes to the decline of Sea Turtles.
Overall, I feel that Seafood Watch is a great application for your iPhone or iPod Touch. It is perfect for any conservationist, any environmentalist, or any pompous person wanting to show off to their date (planning on using it for that already). The design is nice and the layout is easy to use. The only real feature missing is a search option. But, as they are planning on updating often and everything is already easy to find, this is negligible. To me, this is a great application, and it should have a large impact on dining habits of its users. Congratulations to the Monterey Bay Aquarium, Seafood Guide just got my second ever five-star rating!