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Local listings and reviews websites should be well suited to the mobile internet, as the kind of information they offer can be incredibly useful when out and about and looking for somewhere to eat, or some local entertainment.
There are a few sites like Tipped, Yell.com which have dedicated mobile versions of their services, but two such websites have launched iPhone apps, which offer a richer experience than the standard mobile sites. I have been trying out two iPhone listings apps; Qype Radar and Yelp...
Qype Radar launched in December, while Yelp, which recently launched a UK version of its website, introduced its iPhone app in June last year. Both already iPhone optimised versions of their normal mobile sites, but an app can be a way of providing more functionality for users.
Both apps can determine your current location and use this as the starting point for your searches, which makes it easier to search quickly for local businesses and services when you are on the move.
On Qype Radar, the search box is nice and simple; after selecting the business you want to search for you search near to your current location or type in a particular place or postcode to search elsewhere. Alternatively, you can select from the list of business types and Qype will list the nearest ones to your current location:
Yelp's search function is broadly similar and there is little to choose between the two, though the fact that Yelp remembers your recent searches makes it just a little bit easier to use, as does the auto-suggest function which gives you shortcuts as you type:
Results pages on both apps are nice and clear and easy to scroll up and down on. The Qype results, shown below, list local businesses according to proximity, as well as showing the average review score next to the listing:
Yelp's results pages manage to display just a little bit more information in than Qype's. It shows the average review score, but also shows the address, as well as a symbol indicating the price range of the cafes shown.
Again, Yelp wins here as it has added filters which allow users to make more sense of the search results, which can be filtered according to price range, as well as to show the businesses that are currently open. These options are useful, but being able to reorder results by review score or proximity would be a good idea:
However, Yelp search results are plotted on Google Maps, which allows users to quickly see the location of the cafes searched for. Hovering over the flags on the maps will provide a brief summary and a link to further details of the business:
Qype provides the basic information that customers need about a local business; address details, a link to the company website where available, a link to reviews, as well as the option to go to Google Maps for directions:
Yelp provides all this information but manages to provide much greater detail; opening hours are listed, as well as info like nearest tube station, dress code, suitability for groups, outdoor seating, and more. It allows provides photos of the locations, which can be a big help when deciding where to go.
What makes both sites so useful for the mobile internet is the quick access they provide to reviews, which can help you find a great place to eat or drink, or to avoid disappointment.
Both provide a list of reviews for you to scroll down and read through. This is the reviews page from Qype:
And the corresponding page from Yelp:
Again, though both are useful resources if you're looking for somewhere local to eat, Yelp gives a little bit more information to help you make a decision, showing how the number of write ups written by the reviewer and the number of friends they have on the site.
Both apps are really useful resources for mobile internet users, both are user friendly and deliver fast and accurate results for local businesses. However, Yelp has the edge over Qype Radar as it manages to provide more information, and is slightly easier to use than its rival.
At the moment, both apps fail to provide users with the option of adding their own reviews on the move. You can at least login to the Yelp app and see your bookmarked searches from the website, as well as uploading photos you have taken on the iPhone, but you can't add a review.