Tablet Takeover: Will Apps Replace Cookbooks?

When it comes to recipes, tablet computers offer so many helpful features like instructional videos and built-in timers that it might make you reconsider those tried-and-true cookbooks

Ever since the first recipe websites debuted on the Internet, the shelf life of cookbooks has come into question. And with more folks gaining access to the endless variety of cooking apps for smartphones, the question has become even more pertinent.

As many cooks have discovered, a tiny phone screen doesn't really compare to a cookbook or a laptop when it comes to figuring out the finer points of a recipe. But thanks to bigger screens and larger video capacity, tablets are poised to become the next threat to the old school world of cookbook cookery. 

In a recent story for the New York Times, Julia Moskin asked "Are Cookbooks Obsolete?" Siting a handful of remarkable new cooking apps, Moskin examined whether the multimedia capabilities of tablet technology are poised to overtake the printed recipe.

These apps have features that cookbooks just cannot compete with, like built-in timers, glossaries, instructional videos, and access to a whole world of helpful links. Many apps also employ customizable recipe views that allow users to choose which set-up best suits their needs from step-by-step and classic cookbook layouts to flow charts that allow you to view a recipe from beginning to end in an infographic.

One of the most comprehensive of these new tablet apps is The Professional Chef, a tablet version of the textbook used at the Culinary Institute of America. In addition to all of the basic recipes required by the school, the app includes videoes of faculty demonstrating each technique as well as a virtual notebook in which students are able to take and share their notes with each other and the school's staff.

But can these apps, as sleek are they are, replace the beautifully designed and photographed cookbooks that we've become so accustomed to? Not to mention the cookbooks and recipe cards that have been passed down from generation to generation. Sure, apps are useful, but there's a wonderful tactile nature to both cooking and cookbooks that can't really come through on a tablet.

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