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Pestle’s app can now save recipes from Reels using on-device AI
July 10, 2024

Pestle’s app can now save recipes from Reels using on-device AI

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Recipe app and cooking assistant Pestle is turning to AI to make it easier to save recipes from social media — and it’s not using OpenAI’s ChatGPT technology to do so. Instead, Pestle’s latest addition allows you to import recipes directly from Instagram Reels using on-device machine learning to quickly process the recipe and save it to your collection.

The result is a feature that can save recipes you find when scrolling Reels ‘nearly instantaneously,’ says Pestle’s developer Will Bishop.

First launched in 2022, Bishop created Pestle to address the common problem of finding recipes on the web. Unfortunately, today’s recipe websites have become cluttered with ads and long stories while the actual recipe is found at the bottom of the page. Bishop said he would copy recipes from the web into Apple’s Notes app where he would then add his own tweaks and tips. However, the system wasn’t organized, as Notes was never designed to be a recipe database.

That led Bishop to build an app called Pestle, which lets you save recipes from the web by tapping the ‘Share’ button from your iOS browser and then selecting the app as the destination. Beyond importing and organizing recipes, the app also helps you plan meals, create shopping lists, keep up with new recipes from creators, navigate with voice commands and even cook hands-free or with friends and family remotely over Apple’s SharePlay feature for FaceTime.

While saving recipes from the web solved one pain point, the app’s users have long clamored for a way to save from Instagram, too, Bishop says.

‘I’d always pushed back at the idea, as the recipes could be written a million different ways — quite literally — and the idea of parsing all that seemed like a gargantuan task,’ he says. ‘I’d seen other recipe apps tackle this challenge, but all seemingly fell back to just making a call to ChatGPT and making the user wait sometimes up to a minute to get a response.’

The developer says he didn’t want to integrate with ChatGPT for several reasons, including the processing time and concerns over OpenAI’s relationship with privacy. Plus, he says, offloading parsing to a third party could mean Pestle could be subject to downtime, and there would be no way to improve responses, until the third party, like OpenAI, released a faster or more accurate model.

That’s why Bishop began to explore the idea of using on-device machine learning instead. By managing the process on the device, it could be much faster, and he’d still have control over it.

‘The slowest part of the operation is just the request to fetch the Reel’s caption; the processing itself happens in about one-tenth of a second,’ he says.

To use the new feature, you can share an Instagram Reel with Pestle, similar to how you save recipes from the web. The app also supports importing any plain-text recipe, Bishop notes.

The updated version of Pestle is a free download on the iOS App Store. Subscribers gain access to more features, like access to a discover section for cooking inspiration, 14-day meal planning support, shopping lists with Apple Reminders integration and more.


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