Generally I don’t write reviews when I’m drinking, but I had a good excuse for Swirl. After all, if I’m going to try to figure out how good the ratings and recommendations provided by this app are, what better way than to sample a few dozen wines? So screw you for judging me. Salut.
Swirl is the best of a handful of wine apps available on the Android platform. I’ve been following this app for a while, along with a few other drinking apps. Trust me, they all have room to improve, but Swirl offers an advanced set of customization features that set it apart, and perhaps more importantly the app is very actively being developed. Swirl comes in a functional free version, but I recommend Swirl Pro, as it gives you valuable sharing and cellar features that are not available in the free version.
Information abounds in Swirl, probably to a fault. The detail screen for a wine, however, is well done. I like the compact form that gives me easy access to a detailed description of the wine, along with reviews, pairings, and my own tags. Nice.
Snooth provides the backend data feed, along with your own private entries which you can freely create (in the Pro version). Snooth is community-driven, and consequently you may find some fairly unsophisticated reviewers mixed in with the more traditional high-brow drinkers. I find this endearing — it’s a market-based approach to wine rating.
I’ve also really enjoyed the custom tagging features of Swirl. I tend to categorize everything, and the ability to create my own tags is really useful. So far, I have eleven wines in my tastes like ass tag group.
I find it incredibly annoying that Swirl doesn’t support bar-code scanning yet. A quick perusal of the comments on the Android Market make it abundantly clear that other users want this too. I asked the developer of Swirl about this, and he actually responded:
The bar-code scanning is coming. It’s is by far the most requested feature that I get. I’ve been holding off because I don’t want it to suck, and people don’t realize how difficult it is for that particular feature NOT to suck. Wineries are very inconsistent about how they produce UPC codes….
The varietal information in Swirl is disappointing. Don’t get me wrong, it’s actually very complete, and comes with pairings as well. It’s just ugly as hell. No videos, no pictures. No ability to lick your phone and taste the grape. Lame. There is a convenient link to search for wines of each variety, and also a pointer out to wikipedia for further info about the type of wine. This whole aspect of the app could be taken so much further though.
The UI is very easy to use and functional, but could still use some significant polishing. This aspect of the app has evolved significantly over the past year, however, and things are quickly getting better.
ROAST: Swirl Wine Guide