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Yelp for Windows Phone review: Solid search, but map features are lacking

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Yelp has become a go-to site to get ratings and reviews on local restaurants, shops, hair salons, and the list goes on. The local search company's app for Windows Phone brings the same simple search and browse features from its Web site to mobile, making it easy to find and vet businesses wherever you are.

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7.0

Yelp for Windows Phone

The Good

<b>Yelp for Windows Phone</b> is fast and is easy to use to find businesses nearby.

The Bad

You can't search for businesses based on map area, as you can do on Yelp.com and other Yelp apps.

The Bottom Line

Yelp is worth downloading for its massive database of reviews that help you decide if that hole-in-the-wall joint or five-star hotel is worth it.

Yelp for Windows Phone helps you find the good and the bad (pictures)

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Getting around
The Yelp for Windows Phone app experience is familiar if you used the Yelp desktop site before. You can browse businesses by category and location, or search by keyword or business name to get ratings and reviews.

You can search (left) or browse for businesses in the app. Screenshot by Sarah Mitroff/CNET

The main screen of the app has a search bar at the top, where you can search for businesses close to your phone (determined by GPS signal), or by city, neighborhood, or ZIP code. You can search by keyword (muffins) or business name (Macy's).

Below the search bar there are Windows Phone-esque tiles of quick menu options, including Yelp deals, your friends list, bookmarks, an activity feed of recent reviews, nearby Yelp listings, and recently viewed businesses.

You'll need to create or sign into a Yelp account to access bookmarks and the friends list, but you can still browse and search without an account.

Swipe left from the main screen to find a list of "hot+new" nearby businesses, essentially popular places close to you. Each listing has a brief description with the average star rating, address, and distance from your phone's GPS-determined location.

From the main screen, swipe right to view your Yelp profile if you have one and logged into it on the app. There you'll find your bookmarked Yelp listings, and get access to your friends list, plus the reviews, tips, and photos you've added to Yelp.

Search
When you run a search, you'll get a list of the most relevant hits based on business category, keywords in reviews, and distance from your location. You can filter results by price, location, business hours, and whether or not the business is offering a Yelp deal.

Alternatively, you can view all the search results on a map by tapping the map icon at the bottom of the app. You can tap each red triangle to view the business's name.

You can view search results as a list or on a map. Screenshot by Sarah Mitroff/CNET

My biggest disappointment with the Yelp for Windows Phone app is that you can't move the map and search for results in the new map area, a feature that's available on yelp.com and the iOS and Android apps. For me, this is an exceedingly helpful option that is sorely missed in the Windows Phone Yelp app.

From either the list or map view, tap on any result to view the listing's entire profile, which includes reviews, ratings, tips, photos, and business information. I wish that the font was larger in the listing profiles, but otherwise it's easy to find all the business information and Yelp reviews.

On any Yelp business profile, you can upload photos and add tips about the business. You're also able to rate the business on Yelp's five-star rating scale and draft a review, but if you want to publish the review and rating, you'll need to log on to Yelp.com.

Browsing
The other way to find Yelp listings in the app is to tap the Nearby tile on the main screen. There you can browse businesses by category -- restaurants, beauty and spas -- and subcategory, such as Chinese food or makeup artists. The app will find the closest businesses to you that fit into those categories.

Other features
In the app also lets you access Yelp deals, which are coupons or special offers that business owners create with Yelp to get you to try them out. From the main screen, tap the Deals tile and browse the listings with deals closest to you.

Yelp offers. Screenshot by Sarah Mitroff/CNET

However, when you find one you want and try to buy it, the app sends you to Yelp's desktop site and forces you to enter your payment info there, which is frustrating to do on a small phone screen.

Some deals require you to check in to the business, which you can do from the business's Yelp page in the app. I found that check-in deals were easier to claim and redeem than purchasing a deal.

The Yelp app for Windows Phone was updated in July 2013 to include Monocle, a feature that uses your camera to display nearby Yelp listings as you point your camera in different directions. Unfortunately, Monocle is only available on certain Windows Phone devices, and the Lumia 521 I used for testing didn't have it.

Lastly, you can make reservations with OpenTable from the business page and without leaving the Yelp app.

Conclusion
Yelp for Windows Phone makes searching and browsing Yelp listings faster and more simple than using Yelp's Web site, but it's lacking a few features found in other Yelp apps. It's worth downloading for its easy-to-use, pleasing design that makes finding and judging businesses around you simple and fast.

yelpsearchandbrowse.jpg
7.0

Yelp for Windows Phone

Score Breakdown

Setup 8Features 6Interface 8Performance 7