Since time immemorial, finding somewhere to eat or drink has meant the laborious process of talking to a person you already know, and staring into their dead, shark-like eyes as they droned on about lovely establishments. Those miserable days are behind us thanks to a slew of Web sites devoted to aggregating reviews from the public, exponentially expanding your recommendation sample-size and cutting out all human contact. Meet Qype, a Hamburg-based company with a smart phone app -- Qype Radar -- that lets you find places to go eating and drinking directly from your mobile.
What does it do?
Qype Radar is available for both iPhone and , with very little difference between the two versions. Firing it up, you'll be presented with a menu asking you what kind of place you're looking for. Restaurants, cafes and takeaways are just some of the services listed from the app homescreen.
Choose one, and Qype Radar will find your location and show you nearby venues that fall within your search parameters, along with a star rating based on an average score from everyone who's attended that venue and rated it. The interface is slick throughout, and navigating the in-app menus is highly intuitive.
Clicking through, you can view user-uploaded images and read user reviews. This is a particularly helpful feature as you can check out that one guy who gave a pub a one-star rating and judge for yourself whether or not he's a complete nutter whose opinion can't be trusted.
The venue's address is also listed -- clicking on this will take you to a map. If you're using the app on an iPhone you'll have the option to close it down and open the location in the Maps application.
You can also enter a postcode or region and search that way, or look for individual venues if you have somewhere in particular in mind. Finally, you can pen your own reviews, upload your own photos of the place and log your location on Twitter, for some social-network cross-pollination jollies.
Qype Radar goes up against Yelp's app, which offers very similar functionality, plus a little bit extra. Yelp has an excellent monacle, which layers search results over your phone's mobile camera-view. There's also no easy way of telling how pricey a venue is on Qype -- compare this with Yelp's highly useful pound-sign visual, which shows you instantly how much attending a particular venue is likely to set you back.
App Attack verdict
Despite missing a few key features, Qype Radar seems to have a more active UK community than Yelp, and reviews and commentary are the real fuel in these site's engines. Looming over all of them is Google, whose Maps app includes links to an aggregation of aggregations, albeit without much of the interactive functionality.
The war rages on, but as these venue-review aggregations increase in popularity, we draw closer to the time when one service becomes ubiquitous. Wherever your allegiances lie, it's time to hop on the user-review bandwagon -- you'll be amazed at how often you find yourself using it.