Tuesday, March 24, 2009

iPhone Dining Out Apps: Yelp!

Despite some controversy, challenges to its credibility, accusations of extortion, and even lawsuits against its members, Yelp is hugely popular, and understandably so. Think of Yelp as Zagat 2.0, a completely unfiltered customer review site that allows its users to post reviews of restaurants, bars, cafes, gas stations, doctors, beauty salons, newspapers, florists, houses of worship, and pretty much anything else that you can think of. It also allows other reviewers and the business owners themselves to respond to reviewers, which is unique in the world of online user reviews. Yelp is highly successful (4 million reviews written and 15 million visitors a month, according to the New York Times).

The Yelp iPhone application (free) allows users to sync up with their Yelp web account. Though you can't actually review a site or interact with other users within the application, you can read other users' reviews, bookmark businesses, get directions, add photos, and do broad or location-based searches. Conveniently, it also remembers your 10 most recently accessed businesses for easy recall.

The application is fast and a breeze to use. It is very useful for quickly locating and evaluating local businesses. Hard core Yelp-ers may be disappointed in the lack of social features--you can't write reviews or respond to other's reviews via the iPhone. Me? I wouldn't want to write a full review of a business on the iPhone keyboard, and I would even venture to say that reviews written in that manner would probably lack the wit and snark charm of Yelp reviews. A good review takes time to compose, which is not likely to be the circumstances under which an attention-deficient iPhone user (like myself) is bound to be working under.

Next up: UrbanSpoon

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