Apps of the week: learn recipes, languages and find local deals

BigOven

Android, iOS


Free (the app, not the food)

Maybe you enjoy cooking and want to expand your horizons. Maybe you’ve never cooked in your life and just want to break from the dreaded “freshman 15” this summer.

Either way, BigOven has your back. It’s a recipe app that does exactly what it should: inspire you to cook something new. And it solves most of the major roadblocks that would impede your imagination.

Have random leftover ingredients you don’t want to waste, but doubt would play nice in the same dish? Challenge accepted. BigOven gives you the option to combine up to three ingredients as the starting point in your search for a recipe.

Maybe you don’t know what you want to cook, but you know you don’t want what you know how to cook? The app also has themed collections and menus that you can browse through until you find that “oh, that’s a good idea” recipe.

There is also a “trending” feed that shows you the most popular recipes and, of course, if you already know what you want to cook but don’t know to cook it, you have the option of just searching for a recipe.

DuoLingo

Android, iOS

Free

For what it costs (nothing) DuoLingo is a pretty powerful tool to get you started on a new language. It currently teaches Spanish, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Dutch, Irish, Danish, Swedish and Turkish.

When you first start the app, you can either dive straight into the beginning lessons or take a placement test to try to jump ahead to more advanced content.

From there, DuoLingo gives you lesson plans to help you build up your new language skills. The plans vary from five to 20 minutes a day, depending on how much time you’re willing to commit to learning the language.

The exercises have enough variety to stay interesting. Sometimes a sentence is written down in a language and you have to translate it to English. Sometimes the app will play audio of a sentence and you have to repeat it back in that language.

While I’ll admit I haven’t mastered any new languages yet through this app, it’s a promising tool and I’d personally like to start using it more this summer.

SmartLiving Kamloops

Android, iOS

Free

New Wave Advertising Group put out this app to…well, advertise stuff.

But, it is a local app, and it was aggressively pushed onto my Facebook feed through sponsored posts, so I became a bit curious and checked it out.

Its core function is to serve as a coupon app. Its main feed gives you coupons towards places like restaurants, golf courses and yoga studios. There are actually some decent deals in this app, like “buy a round of golf for yourself and bring a friend along for free” at the Eaglepoint Golf Resort.

If this app stopped at that, I would accept it for what it is and call it a slightly useful app. Unfortunately, it also tries to be an events calendar, contests listing, news and radio aggregate, and weather app and fails miserably at doing most of those things.

The weather function just takes you to The Weather Network’s website, but in SmartLiving’s half-baked, ugly web browser. The “news and radio” function does the same thing but takes you to sites like Kamloops this Week or Radio NL instead.

The events listings are fairly well curated for what they are, but the listings themselves are only brief summaries of the event with links to another website at the end. Ugh.

The coupons are the only good thing about this app and, from what I can tell, the only part of it that’s actually profitable for the app developer. They really should have stopped there.