Poynt for iPhone: Like a Google, Flixster, Yelp mashup

The new Poynt supersearch app has a lot going for it, and one major problem we experienced that will keep it from catching on.

Article corrected 3/3/2010 at 12:00 PT (SuperPages.com supports its own version of Yellow Pages) and updated stability issues at 2:00 pm PT.

Poynt on iPhone

The field of iPhone search apps is already crowded with Yelp, Urbanspoon, and Zagat for dining; Flixster's Movies app for showtimes; YellowPages for people; and Google Mobile App for just about everything else. Now here comes Poynt, a new free iPhone search app that mashes together elements of them all.

At its core, Poynt is an aggregator of third-party services encased in an attractive wrapper. SuperPages.com powers the business listings; CinemaSource feeds you entertainment info and facilitates ticket purchases via MovieTickets.com. Poynt taps SuperPages, CitySearch, and OpenTable to find you food, and Google Maps handles all mapping and directions on its native app. With the exception of Google Maps, which kicks you out, Poynt keeps you in its environment with an in-app browser.

Poynt's feature set is strong overall, with buttons for visiting the Web site where available, calling, mapping, searching nearby, streaming movie trailers, and viewing augmented reality if you have an iPhone 3GS. Instead of tapping to place a call, Poynt employs a calling gesture. As with voice search in Google Mobile app, lifting the phone to your ear triggers the action.

Poynt for iPhone restaurant listing
Poynt integrates calling, Web lookups, and Google directions. Screenshot by Jessica Dolcourt/CNET

We do have minor complaints. Although Poynt lassos three services to bring dining reservations and reviews, it lacks Yelp's complete features, like viewing photos and flagging if restaurants are currently open. Other niggles: The navigation carousel on the splash screen is more stylish than seeing four static icons but is also less efficient.

Poynt's text fields dedicated to numbers should call up the iPhone's numerical keyboard, not the virtual text keyboard. Voice search is an absent feature for those who don't feel silly speaking search terms aloud in public.

The handy call gesture got us into trouble--or rather, the hardware did. With call gestures on, tapping, touching, or otherwise engaging the sensor (near the speaker) can trigger a call. We got caught in an incessant dialing loop while trying to take screenshots. If you're setting off unwanted calls too often, disabling call gestures in the iPhone Settings or minding your hands should keep you out of trouble.

Poynt's publisher, Multiplied Media, has created a credible iPhone version of Poynt for BlackBerry that at least has a shot of breaking into the iPhone's ranks of high-rated search apps. Poynt is available in the US and Canada.

 

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