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Review: Grocery list applications for the iPhone

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You can e-mail lists off the iPhone, but the process is more convoluted than it need be. When you tap the e-mail icon at the bottom of a list, your iPhone’s contact list appears; tap a contact, and then the Mail app opens, with a new e-mail addressed to that person, the subject filled in as Grocery Gadget Shopping List, and the list itself—including the state of each item’s checkbox—in the body of the e-mail. You can then add to (or change) the recipient of the e-mail, customize the message, and send it. This would be much simpler if Grocery Gadget simply opened Mail in the first place; given you can easily address e-mails in Mail, it’s actually more work to go through the contact database first.

I found Grocery Gadget very easy to use, and loved its ability to store multiple lists, along with the self-updating shopping list that reordered itself as I checked off the stuff in our cart. The large database of grocery items can be both a help and a hindrance, but in general, I liked not having to type out every product’s full name. While it’s not free, Grocery Gadget offers a lot of value for the money if you do a lot of shopping.

While none of the programs I reviewed have turned my weekly grocery shopping chore into a pleasant experience, now at least I have a valid reason to bring the iPhone along on the journey. Of the three programs I’ve reviewed here, I’ve found myself using Grocery Gadget most often. I like its user interface the best, and find it strikes the right balance between features and usability. For a free app, ShopShop acquits itself well, and SplashShopper offers the usual feature-rich programs I’ve come to expect from SplashData, along with the requisite desktop synchronization.

All apps mentioned in this round-up are compatible with any iPhone or iPod touch running the iPhone 2.x software update.

[Senior editor Rob Griffiths writes the Mac OS X Hints blog in between visits to the grocery store.]

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At a Glance
  • Generic Company Place Holder ShopShop - Shopping List

  • Generic Company Place Holder SplashShopper List Manager

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