UI Centric has enjoyed a long-standing relationship with Microsoft, and has become a trusted partner in the development of many cutting-edge projects undertaken for the corporation. As a consequence, we were one of a select group of developers invited to contribute a pre-beta (Alpha build) Windows 8 reference application, designed to explore the strengths of the touch-based operating system and illustrate how to build a complete Windows 8 application using best practices for data acquisition, user control and more. This was our second ‘Contoso’ project to be commissioned by Microsoft.

We developed ‘Food & Dining’, an application that combines various data resources to suggest the best places to eat, drink and socialize near to the user’s current location. Functionality includes the ability to view a restaurant’s menu, read reviews, and even book a table, and offers a variety of search options and filters.

Each screen presents users with a different way of finding what they are looking for. The home screen features ‘Trending Restaurants’ – a series of tiles highlighting establishments that are popular talking points on social media. ‘Recently Reviewed’ presents a snap shot of restaurant reviews sourced from Yelp, while ‘Top Near Me’ reveals a list of the highest-rated restaurants in the area. Each section can be viewed in grid form, filtered by cuisine, price range and neighborhood, and the user can locate the restaurant with integrated maps from Bing. With a shake of the user’s mobile device, the apps ‘Surprise Me’ functionality will return a random recommendation, refined with the help of few simple filters.

Each restaurant has its own details page, featuring opening hours, information on facilities, reviews, current deals, the current menu (sourced from OpenMenu), and a photo gallery of images associated with the restaurant collected from Bing. Users can also make a reservation directly via the app, which will send a reminder via a toast notification on their device’s screen. Toast notifications will also alert users when a restaurant near their current location has received a new review. The application is fully adapted for snapped and portrait views.