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Poynt vs. Urbanspoon (score 1 for Poynt)

December 31, 2009 Leave a comment

PoyntI posted earlier about my excitement that Urbanspoon for BlackBerry had finally been released (see original post here).  However, I have to put a plug in for Poynt here, based on a vacation I took this week.

I took my wife to Harrison Hot Springs in south-western BC for a couple of days during the holidays.  Once we were settled into our hotel and ready to go for something to eat, I fired up Urbanspoon on my BlackBerry.  I was disappointed to see that the nearest location was Chilliwack (approximately 30 minutes drive away).  This didn’t provide us any useful information as to where to eat.  So while I do use Urbanspoon frequently in a big city, it is completely useless in a small town.

So I opened Poynt and searched using the ‘Restaurants Near Me’ feature, which quickly brought up a list of restaurants, noting each of their distances from my present location.  Poynt uses Yellow Pages listings and Open Table restaurant listings to find restaurants.  Although we could not read reviews or ratings on any of these restaurants, we could find which ones were closest, directions to get there, and an idea on what type of food to expect.

So, while sometimes I like to read a few reviews on a restaurant before dining there, in a small town with 1 sushi restaurant and 1 bar/grill, I only really need to know what’s available and how to get there.  Score 1 for Poynt!  I must also admit that Poynt is one of the most used apps on my BlackBerry.  Everything from movie tickets to a nearby liquor store or gas station can be found.  Incredibly powerful tool, I just never thought I’d also use it to find restaurants in a pinch.

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Urbanspoon for BlackBerry

November 26, 2009 1 comment

UrbanspoonI’m a little behind on this one, as I’ve been away in Europe for the last couple of weeks, where my Bell Canada CDMA BlackBerry 8330 does not work.  But here we go…

I installed Urbanspoon for BlackBerry earlier this week, and have been playing with it for a few days now.  I must admit that I have been anxiously anticipating this release ever since the first time I saw this app on a friends iPhone a few years ago.

So far, I have been pleasantly surprised with the application.  Prior to this release for BlackBerry, I have been using Poynt and OpenTable’s BlackBerry apps to search for restaurants.  Both of these apps are location-based search apps, but have their limitations.

The OpenTable app is well designed and works well, but had a couple of glaring limitations that were quite frustrating.  First, there was no way to read restaurants reviews in the application.  Therefore, it would find restaurants in my area, but other than a short description of the restaurant, offered no additional information.  Secondly, the app is limited to restaurants that sign on to the OpenTable reservation program.  So a great app, but quite limited.

Poynt is a great location-based search tool, but searches directories (i.e. YellowPages) and therefore, provides restaurant names, contact information, address, and directions, but does not provide any additional information, such as reviews or descriptions.  So while Poynt is one of my favourite and most used BlackBerry apps, it is not entirely suited to finding restaurants.

Enter Urbanspoon.  I like that it has the ability to search based on proximity, type of cuisine and price range.  The randomization (spin) feature is nice, but is purely aesthetic.  I do, however, really like that it offers ratings (% of people who like it) and reviews for each restaurant.  Additionally, the app integrates really well with BlackBerry Maps to provide navigation and/or step-by-step directions.

However, the app leaves room for a couple of improvements.  First, each time I open the app, the sound is turned on, even if my phone profile is set to quiet or vibrate.  Easily turned off, but easy to forget.  Second, the reviews open in the browser instead of in the app itself.  While still functional, would be nice to see this functionality built into the app itself.  And lastly, the app opens with a background image of a cup of french fries.  Not exactly the haute cuisine I am searching for.  If I want fries, I can always find the Golden Arches.

Overall, a great app, and it is great to see that it has finally been added to the BlackBerry lineup.  The app is available in the BlackBerry App World or from the Urbanspoon directly.