App Review: GrillStar – BBQ Timer and Guide

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In addition to being a BBQ and grilling fanatic, I’m also a bit of a techno junkie.  It comes with the territory of working as a web and software developer during the day.  So when asked if I wanted to try out a grilling app, who am I to refuse?  So let’s dive in and take a look at GrillStar — BBQ Timer and Guide.  It’s available for 99 cents in the Apple App Store.

GrillStar Initial Screen

GrillStar Initial Screen (on the iPad)

The premise of GrillStar is to have the user emulate on the app exactly what he or she is doing on the grill, and GrillStar accomplishes this by presenting its primary interface as grill grates.  There are three different zones presented — a sear zone (denoted with a red background), a direct heat zone (yellow/orange background), and an indirect heat zone (black background).  These zones can be toggled on and off as well as be adjusted in size.

Adjustable heat zones

Adjustable heat zones

To add a meat to the grill, click the “Add” button at the bottom right corner of the app.  You’re then presented with a graphical interface to allow you to choose between traditional meats, seafood, and vegetables.  After making your selection, you can choose from various items to place on your virtual grill.  When you make your selection, you’ll be presented with the screen below.

Selected item screen

Selected item screen

From here, you can name the particular piece of meat you’re about to cook, set the flip timer (in minutes) and done timer (in minutes), and add it to the grill.  Not sure how long to set the timers?  That’s okay too.  Just click “Ask GrillStar”, and you will be given suggestions for flip and done times (as well as temperature at which to cook).  You can either accept the suggestions by the app or edit them for your food.

"Ask GrillStar" screen

"Ask GrillStar" screen

After adding items to your grill, just click and drag them onto the grill grates to start the timers for each item.  When it’s time to flip or to pull off the grill, you’ll get both visual and audio notification that time is up.  To flip an item, just double-tap on it and select “Flip item”.  To remove an item (or edit its settings), press and hold on the item until a context menu appears.

Here are five things that, in my opinion, make this app stand out from other apps:

  • Each item on the grill has its own timer, so multiple items can be timed at once.
  • The timers continue to run in the background even after closing the app.
  • There is a very good selection of meats and vegetables available in the area to choose your item to put on the grill.
  • You can “add a minute” or “add two minutes” to items already placed on the grill.
  • Even though the app is meant for the iPhone/iPod Touch, the app’s graphics upscale adequately for the iPad.
GrillStar (on iPad, upscaled graphics)

GrillStar (on iPad, upscaled graphics)

Here are two things that would add significant value (in my opinion) to the app if implemented:

  • Add the ability to take multiple items ready to be put on the grill and automatically schedule  when to place them on the grill so that everything comes off at the same time.
  • Add the ability for a user to add his or her own meats to the app to choose from.

For 99 cents, this app is a steal!  It has many features that make the app worth more.  If you are grilling multiple items and need to track when to flip each item, then this app is a must-have for your iDevice!