By Daniel B. Kline
Having a useful website does not always translate into having a useful app. Take countless travel apps that perform poorly when compared to their online versions. So just because OpenTable has an easy-to-use, especially useful website does not mean that would carry over to the app.
In this case, however, those fears were unfounded as the OpenTable folks have delivered a perfect, simple, and elegant app. Like its online parent, the OpenTable app lets you make restaurant reservations. And while the website can sometimes feel cluttered and a little hard to navigate, the app offers the bare minimum. There are no bells and whistles; but in this case, you don't need them.
The OpenTable app makes it incredibly easy to use your phone to make a restaurant reservation – be it for tonight in Boston, or six months down the road in San Francisco. After registering (or logging in with an existing account), you simply pick a location, a date, and time. Once you enter that data, a list of available times at various eateries come up and finishing the reservation is just a couple of clicks away.
There's nothing fancy about this app. It doesn't do much to help you decide between the restaurants (though you can see menus and read reviews from other OpenTable customers). You can also get directions by accessing the Maps app from the OpenTable app, but none of that is the point. This is an app that lets you make a reservation in a few simple clicks and it does that fabulously well.
OpenTable also has a rewards system tied into your account where you get points for every reservation you make and keep. Those points can be traded in for gift cards good at any OpenTable restaurant. Since the app offers a useful service without offering a kickback, the rewards system is simply icing on an already delicious cake.