ATLANTA - With the advent of iPhone and iPod applications, snagging information got a lot easier.Folks are checking Facebook, keeping tabs on the weather, getting on-the-fly movie showtimes - the list is seemingly endless. There are more than 15,000 applications available on Apple's iTunes App store. Many of these are food- and drink-related, from calorie counters to menu planners, recipe and restaurant finders.
Since we all have to eat, we sampled a few. We found plenty of choices, but because the recipes on these applications are user-generated, and not tested by the companies that provide the service, you may find renegade ingredients or incomplete instructions. So it is possible that your dishes may have mixed results.
Still, the apps are good guides. Here are the apps with the best taste.
Chef: Application cost: 99 centsWhat it does: It helps put all your favorite recipes in the palm of your hand. By creating a free account on www.chefslittlehelper.com, you can add your own recipes, which appear on your iPhone or iPod when you log in. The application also allows access to more than 5,000 recipes uploaded by other users.
The recipe search lets you track down recipes by choosing cuisine type, everything from Lebanese to vegan, and the type of dish. With the grocery list function, users can import a recipe's ingredients into a shopping list or type items manually.
Worth it? The price is right. But to get the most out of it, you have to hop on your computer.
Drink Pro: Application cost: 99 centsWhat it does: If you've ever coveted a bartender's skill, this one could give you that extra olive in the proverbial martini glass. More than 20,000 drink recipes can be searched by name, category, ingredient or randomly.
The unit converter comes in handy if you must change recipe amounts in imperial to metric or vice versa. A how-to bartending guide gives users a little behind-the-bar 101 with a glossary of bartending equipment, techniques, glassware and more. A bar locator uses GPS technology to help find a bar near you.
Once you've found that bar you're looking for, use the blood alcohol content calculator to help you know when to say when.
Worth it? Cocktail enthusiasts and those who entertain frequently should have a blast.
Zagat to Go '09: Application cost: $9.99What it does: We're sitting in Cakes & Ale in Decatur, Ga. When we search this application for restaurants sorted by distance, Cakes & Ale is on top of the list. Oh, the wonder of GPS.
Users get a review, contact info and a direct link to the restaurant's Web site. Restaurants can be searched by neighborhood, cuisine, special features and more. The advanced search feature lets hungry hunters browse by more detailed categories, including cost, service rating and a host of others.
Worth it? Love the GPS feature that tracks restaurants near you. But we've found more than one closed location in need of an update.
Wine Enthusiast: Application cost: $4.99What it does: Imagine having a wine aficionado in your pocket. The minds behind Wine Enthusiast magazine offer an application with more than 68,000 wine reviews listed alphabetically from Aalto to Zumaya.
Click on a particular wine and you get the vintage, its approximate cost, its rating and a review. Create your own wish list and search for a particular label. A list of vintages with recommendations, illustrated tutorials and a wine reference guide bring more bottle knowledge to the table.
Worth it? Wine lovers shouldn't leave home without it.
Nutrition Menu-Calorie Counter: Application cost: $4.99What it does: Want to see how many calories are in a slice of Mellow Mushroom cheese pizza? It's in the restaurant database along with more than 63,000 items from grocery stores and restaurants across the United States and Canada.
This popular app allows users to find and log nutritional facts, plus a calculator allows you to input items that aren't in the database. And you can log your daily consumption in a journal that computes your caloric intake.
Worth it? Good investment for serious calorie counters.
Allrecipes.com Dinner Spinner: Application cost: FreeWhat it does: This application helps in dinner decisions. You'll choose from a list of dish types, a list of ingredients and a list of cooking times.
For example, let's say you want to make a main dish with shellfish that takes 45 minutes or less to prepare. With a touch to the screen, we received a list of 25 matches, including a recipe for creamy pesto shrimp. We get to see the recipe, take a look at its nutrition information and peruse the user-generated reviews. Each recipe includes a photo.
If you're really stuck, you can shake the device or touch "spin," and you'll get a random recipe.
Worth it? It's a fun way to make dinner.
UrbanSpoon: Application cost: FreeWhat it does: An application version of the restaurant review site that operates like a slot machine. You choose a location, then shake the device or simply press "shake." The application randomly suggests a restaurant in your area, gives contact information and critic and user reviews.
You can narrow the options by locking the slot machine on a neighborhood, cuisine type and price range. A GPS feature helps find restaurants near you.
Worth it? The slot machine feature is a novelty with a long shelf life.
Note: Remember, iPhones are wired to the Internet. But iPod touch devices require a wireless Internet connection to use applications that have GPS or other online features.