Yelp for Android review: Yelp adds in-app menus, still lags in performance

Yelp's new Explore Menus feature makes it an even stronger app for discovering local restaurants and other businesses. Too bad it's still in major need of a speed boost.

Jaymar Cabebe

Jaymar Cabebe

Former Associate Editor

Jaymar Cabebe covers mobile apps and Windows software for CNET. While he may be a former host of the Android Atlas Weekly podcast, he doesn't hate iOS or Mac. Jaymar has worked in online media since 2007.

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3 min read

Yelp is easily my favorite online city guide for exploring restaurants and other businesses in my area. It not only provides vital information like hours, addresses, and phone numbers, but it also offers a treasure trove of user-submitted reviews, ratings, photos, and much more.

Yelp (Android)

Yelp for Android

The Good

<b>Yelp</b> has an impressive database that makes it perfect for discovering new restaurants and other businesses nearby.

The Bad

Needs more search filters. Slow performance.

The Bottom Line

Even with its slow performance and lack of search filters, Yelp's incredible database of business listings and user-submitted data make it a must-have app for every mobile user.

Since Yelp taps into your mobile device's GPS powers, it can easily help you find businesses nearby. Alternatively, you can indicate a city of your choice to search elsewhere. You can conduct your search based on keyword, or browse through listings by category. There are also filters to further narrow your search by factors like distance and price, or to display only businesses that are currently open. Unfortunately, though, those are the only filters available as you search. With Yelp's incredible database of information, it would've been nice to be able to filter by neighborhood or specific amenities offered, the way you can on the Web.

Updated Yelp for Android lets you explore menus (pictures)

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As a whole, the app's user interface is decidedly straightforward, with a dashboard displaying a search bar at the top and a few icons below for additional functions like bookmarks, check-ins, and deals. There are also shortcuts to see your Yelp profile, Friends list, and Recent searches.

Also accessible from the dashboard is one of Yelp's neater features, the augmented-reality mode Monocle. To use it, just point your camera down a street full of businesses, and watch as it overlays ratings and other useful data on your screen. Monocle comes in real handy when you're wandering on bustling city streets, but it's important to note that it can sometimes be overwhelming, with the overlay showing more ratings than the screen can comfortably accommodate. Also, I noticed that Monocle can be glitchy, as it sometimes freezes and shows slightly inaccurate geographical readings. Still, it's fun feature that can be useful when you want to see what lies in the general direction that you're walking.

Monocle is Yelp's neat, though sometimes inaccurate, augmented reality feature. Screenshot by Jaymar Cabebe/CNET

Hands-down, Yelp's biggest asset is its impressively large database of information. Not only is it able to pull up listings for even the most obscure-seeming restaurants and bars, but each each individual listing is also impressive in the number of details they contain. A recently added feature even lets you explore the menus of select restaurants, right from within the app. From a listing page, you can also place a call to a business, find directions, draft a review (but not publish it), check in, bookmark, add a photo, or add a quick tip.

With its most recent update, Yelp lets you view menus for select restaurants, right from within the app. Screenshot by Jaymar Cabebe/CNET

My biggest issue with the Yelp app is its performance. When you're out and about, looking for a place to eat, it helps to have a zippy app that can quickly pull up listings, load reviews and photos, and find directions. Unfortunately, Yelp for Android is anything but zippy. While the newest version is certainly an improvement over previous ones, I still notice a lag, specifically when loading photos and pulling up maps.

Overall, the Yelp app is incredibly useful and well-designed. Some improvements I would like to see in the future include the ability to publish reviews, more filter options for search results, and overall faster performance. Even without these features, though, I would still confidently say that Yelp is a must-have app for every mobile user.

Yelp (Android)

Yelp for Android

Score Breakdown

Setup 10Features 8Interface 9Performance 7
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