Yahoo! Sketch-a-Search is a “travel” app. that allows you to look up restaurants by drawing a line around the area you want to search within. You don’t have to type in any keywords or designate a radius to search in, just draw a circle with your finger to show your general area of interest, and all the restaurants located in that area will appear in list view at the bottom of your screen. The list of restaurants provides a name, address, and star rating (based on a 5 star scale). If you select a restaurant from the list, more information may be provided. In the one I found that had the most information, there was a phone number, hours of operation, price range, type of cuisine, ambiance, and dress code, as well as a link to the restaurant’s website. There are also restaurants that only provide minimal info, such as only an address and/or phone number.
You have the option of emailing the restaurant info to someone by tapping the arrow button in the upper right hand corner of the screen, and also of getting directions from your current location to the restaurant. The directions link takes you to a Google maps page. The main page that you draw the area of interest on is also a Google maps page. I love Google maps, and I’m glad that this app. uses it, but it just seems weird that Yahoo would choose to use Google maps instead of their own (yes, Yahoo does have its own maps page). I guess it’s just because the iPhone architecture is still built around Google technology.
If you get a lot of results for a particular area and want to filter them based on cuisine type, ambiance, or star rating, you can do that by pressing the filter button that’s towards the middle of the screen on the main page of the app. I really like this feature- it would come in handy if you were trying to put together a last minute date or something- that way you could make sure to take your sweetheart to a 5 star romantic French Bistro rather than a 2 star unimpressive hole in the wall.
I was disappointed that the app. It shows star ratings for the restaurants, but doesn’t allow the user to access the reviews that led to that particular star rating. I feel like if you can’t access the reviews, then what’s the point of the stars? They seem pretty arbitrary without the info to back them up. I also found the information to not always be completely accurate. For example, a restaurant that I know is in the area I specified was not appearing on the list.
However, this app. is free, and it is definitely easier to draw a circle around an area than to type in what you’re looking for. Sketch-a-Search is not perfect, but it’s not bad either. Why not add it to your app collection since it could come in handy.
Here is a video demo of the Yahoo! Sketch-a-Search app on the iPhone
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