Meet Meal, Japanese app that helps you keep food diary with minimal effort



See the original story in Japanese.

“Wouldn’t that be cool if there was a service for this?” Until recently that was where a lot of ideas began and ended, but now we’re seeing an increase in app developers who didn’t stop there.

“If there isn’t a service for this, I guess I’ll just make it myself.” became the new impetus for developers such as Rika Goto, an engineer working at Tokyo creative collective Kayac (TSE:3904). While working as a full-time employee, Goto spent weekends designing and programming for four months to release her iOS app Meal.

“It has to be simple enough for my parents to use.”

Meal is a “life log” app that creates a running record of pictures of your breakfast, lunch, and dinner every day. The application’s primary functions are taking pictures and importing photos from your smartphone’s photo albums. Photos taken are organized and displayed in calendar form so users can easily look back and reminisce on what they ate last week or last month. Photos that have been imported from a photo album will be sorted automatically by the application based on the photo’s timestamp into either breakfast, lunch, or dinner.

Goto’s biggest fixation when it came to developing meal was “it has to be simple enough for my parents to use.” Trimming superfluous features down to the very minimum, her entire focus was set on developing an app for looking at pictures of the food we eat everyday.

When you’re developing an application, there’s a tendency to get excited about it and just keep adding more features, but with meal, I was determined to trim it down to its most simple form, even if people say ‘uh, is this is all it can do?’

“Just try to make it, whatever the programming language.”

Meal is so simple to use the app itself doesn’t need any words, which is why it was released in English only. Within five days of release in late June it is already being embraced by users in 23 different countries with feedback pouring in. One such user shared, “I didn’t used to eat breakfast very often, but seeing that breakfast space left blank was actually kind of sad so I started eating three meals a day.”

The idea to create Meal came from Goto’s daily life. She said:

I like eating, and I take pictures of what I eat, but I would never really organize those pictures or share them on social media or anything, so they just starting filling up my photo library. I looked at all my pictures of food and thought it was a shame they were just sitting there, so that’s where I got the idea to make Meal.

Goto’s motto when making something new is, “Just try to make it, whatever the programming language.” Meal was Goto’s first time using Objective-C, but recalls developing Meal being quite enjoyable. She thinks of a programming language as a means to turning an idea into something real, and that trying to make what it is you want to make might be the quickest way to learn a new language.

For now, Meal’s objective is to reach 5,000 downloads in three months. Goto has a lot of ideas for the app such as sharing your meal calendar with friends and managing it via the web, but plans to hold off on those for now, listen to user feedback and requests, and continue brushing up meal as things progress.

Translated by Connor Kirk
Edited by Masaru Ikeda