Ahead of its time: 13 years of the Nutracheck App

Emma Brown - Nutritionist | 12 Jun, 2018

old to new

Believe it or not, when Nutracheck started in 2005, the App Store did not exist. The Nutracheck Java App launched on 21st February 2005 and broke new ground as the UK's first combined mobile and online food diary service. Today it's easy to download Apps from the App Store for your phone or tablet, but if you wanted a diet App a decade ago, it was somewhat more complicated.

Now there are two main phone operating platforms – iOS and Android – but 10 years ago, your phone ran on software developed by your phone manufacturer, so there were lots of different operating systems we had to make the Nutracheck App work on. To download it, you needed to check our list of compatible phones – which we had painstakingly tested it on. It also depended on your network provider as to what type of data package you had.

For a touch of nostalgia, we've dug out a couple of the original FAQs:

Does it work on all mobile phones?

It works on a wide selection of the latest phone models and makes such as Nokia, Motorola and Siemens. If you're not sure, you can check if it's compatible by visiting our website at Nutracheck.co.uk – which has got pictures of different phones in case you don't know the model. If your phone's not compatible at the moment, you still have the option to use Nutracheck Online (www.nutracheck.co.uk) which offers exactly the same information on the phone and more besides. There is also a 5-day free website trial.

Does it connect to the internet?

Yes – to download Nutracheck your phone needs to connect to the internet very briefly – which costs about 30p depending on your operator. If you're using Nutracheck on your phone just to check and add food, it runs completely separately as a stand-alone programme – like a game would. Then the only other time it may connect is if you synchronize with the website to everything in your phone back to your online food diary – which you might do once a day. But not all phones can do this – it depends on your make and model.

Can I sync my diary with the website?

Yes, you can send all of the data you have added into your food diary to update your online account so it is there ready for when you next log onto the Nutracheck website. Select the 'My Diary' menu option and then 'Sync with web'. When you click on this, you may be asked if you wish to 'Use data network?' Press OK. Synchronisation is taking place when the message reads 'Please wait...Creating Diary'. As well as food diary items, anything you have saved under 'View Favourites' will also be updated.

Food tracking using your mobile phone is no longer new, but it was a different ball game when phone screens were much smaller and we didn't have touch screen technology.

In 2005, phone cameras were not good enough to read barcodes on food packaging, so the first Nutracheck App used 'Barcode Quick Search'. Our food database has always linked barcodes to food products, but in the absence of a barcode scanner in the phone, the user had to type in the last 4 digits of the barcode to bring back a shortlist of four to six results... we had the vision, but not the technology!

It was the launch of the iPhone in 2007 and subsequently the App Store in 2008 that changed mobile technology for ever. Today, the Nutracheck App includes a barcode scanner you simply point at the barcode to find the exact product. Over the past decade our food database has grown from 30,000 products when we launched, to over 300,000 products today. And as from day one, it's verified data managed by us, not users.

Back to today

Phones are now faster and have bigger screens with generous data allowances. The challenge is to keep up with the pace of ever-changing technology. In the words of Phones 4u founder John Caudwell, "The pace of technology is the fastest it's ever been, but also the slowest it will ever be".

The Nutracheck App was relaunched in 2018 with over 30 new features and enhancements. Our mission is to make tracking what you eat as fast and easy as possible. We listen to our members feedback and are committed to keep developing the App and website to make Nutracheck the very best nutrition tracking service available.

Nutritionist Emma Brown (ANutr), MSc Human Nutrition is passionate about how food science applies to the human body, and how the nutrients in what we eat affect us and ultimately have an impact on our health.