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Review: Urbanspoon for BlackBerry Smartphones

By Ryan Blundell on 17 Nov 2009 08:40 am EST
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Where I used to live, the choices for dining were slim. It’s not always a bad thing; every Monday night was wing night at our favourite hang out. Since I moved to the West Coast, there’s almost too many to choose from!  Part of me wants to stick to familiar places, another part says to venture out and see what else is out there, still another part says to stop going out so much and save the money for a new BlackBerry. After trying to figure out what everyone feels like having to eat, there’s still the decision between the usual place or a new one. At this point, someone may get fed up and decide to order a pizza. Before you surrender to the salivating scent of pepperoni and cheese, grab a spoon…Urbanspoon that is.

At the BlackBerry Developer Conference 2009, Kevin gave us the heads up on Urbanspoon. The application helps you decide where to dine, based on the neighbourhood, cuisine and your budget. We’ve seen it in commercials featuring the ” SighPhone”, but now we users and abusers have the opportunity to search for places to stuff our faces. Grab a napkin and read on!

About Urbanspoon

The Urbanspoon app is powered by Xtreme Labs. This recently released mobile application for BlackBerry smartphone is available for the 83xx series, 88xx series, Curve 8900, Storm, Tour, Bold 9000 and Bold 9700. Its current version is 1.0 (duh, it just came out) and the file size is 422KB.

Every time you open Urbanspoon, the application will attempt to retrieve your GPS location. I found that this failed frequently, so I chose the second option; Choose your City. The second option retrieves the list of dozens of cities from Canada, the United States, United Kingdom and Australia. You can search by Zip Code or by City name. As you type out the desired City, the application begins to shortlist the cities. As you use Urbanspoon, a third option allows you to use the last location.

Now the magic begins. Urbanspoon sports a series of three tumblers. The first has a selection of neighbourhoods, the second offers up various types of cuisine. The third will help choose your budget, from ‘heap eats’ to ‘fine dining’. The tumblers are quite easily managed. You can let your dinner be decided by fate, or lock tumblers for more control. For example, you may want to stay in a particular neighbourhood and have a moderately priced meal, but you don’t know what to eat. Once your selections are made, choose to spin. Watch and drool as the tumbler spins. The results are displayed below the tumbler. It should be noted that the application could come up with no results as well. Storm users have the extra fun with the shake and spin feature. Instead of clicking “spin”, they get to manhandle their BlackBerrys until they find a place to eat. I just look like an idiot, shaking by Bold. If you had a place in mind, Urbanspoon has an added feature that allows you to search by name.

If you click on the establishment chosen for you, the following screen allows you to see patron ratings and read online reviews. You can also call the restaurant, as well as view it on a map (Google Maps). Clicking on either the review button, or the button containing the name, will bring you to the restaurant’s online entry. So while everyone else is already trying to call shotgun while heading out the door, you can view additional information. From this page you can view any photos, view the menu, view critic reviews (including ratings), any available website, restaurants with similar menus and business information (capacity, owner, email address, inspection history and permit history). While some may find these details important, some (like me) would already be making reservations.

Urbanspoon is a fantastic way to find a place where you can fill your belly. I’m hoping that, in time, more cities will be added. This will only add to the already amazing choices. The application offers quick access to those on the go, as well as those who want to research a restaurant beforehand. Urban spoon is available for free and can be found in the BlackBerry App World catalog.

Pros

  • Fun, entertaining way to find restaurants
  • detailed business, contact and location information
  • search by city or use GPS

Cons

  • support for more cities needed

More Info

Reader comments

Review: Urbanspoon for BlackBerry Smartphones

34 Comments

I love Urbanspoon. Urbanspoon and Opentable - my dinner plans are taken care of. Is this the same version as the one "leaked" in the posting from the conference last week?

Should be the same app/version I think. It didn't "leak" last week...that was an official release. Just that it was available from the developer's site prior to it going live in App World.

The original version I downloaded was 0.2 something, but I just recently downloaded 1.0 from App World.

Oddly enough I found 0.2 to be more stable and get the GPS lock quicker. I'm also finding the $ spins for too long and frequently comes up with "Sorry No Restaurant Found" when looking for an Italian place in Old City Philadelphia. I can shoot off about 15 places within a few blocks so something fishy is going on. I'm not sure if it's related to the App World version, because I hadn't played with the original download very long.

On my Storm2, it will frequently open up and spin over and over. It'll stop at a restaurant for a second, then spin again. It's almost unusable but for the fact that occasionally it doesn't happen.

I'm willing to bet that's the case. Either it's too sensitive, or something on my end.

A quick fix would be an option to disable the physical shake and enable the button that the non-Storm users have.

When I'm in a car using this, I can't hold it still enough to even read a restaurant. Outside of a moving vehicle, it's hit and miss, largely miss.

Encountered some major issues with the Beta version on my 8900 running OS 5.0.0.314 Not that I would expect anything to run perfectly on a leaked OS (or even on an official RIM OS).. but this was locking up my 8900 totally. It was the only App that was having that effect on the devise.

Hopefully at some point, maybe when the official 5.0 is released, it will work better. I liked the App, just not the effect it was having on my 8900.

Tried it a couple times and it's nice, though it knows no eating establishments in my area even though I live in a good sized City just 25 miles from Washington DC. Sure, it will send me into town, but I'm usually not looking for an hour plus commute to get a bite to eat!

I'm keeping it installed though in the hopes coverage will expand. And since I do travel for work now and then, perhaps in some of the places I go it will do better.

I didn't have any issues with it GPS locating me on either a Storm, Tour, or Storm2.

Is there a way to have be on mute EVERY time you start it? Having to mute the application every time I use it is bringing it one step closer to being removed.

Nice looking program but it only produces one single restuarant. Why can't it produce a list of them? The reason is because the UI is so pretty that it takes up the whole screen leaving just one line for results.

A partial fail, imo.

It has a mind of its own!!! Sometimes I shake the hell out of it and it doesnt do anything, at othertimes I barely even move it and the wheels start to spin. Very annoying. Most of the time when I go to view the resturaunt it goes into a spin again and I lose the previous selection it made. Great premise but am waiting for a future version that works the bugs out.

It worked for me, finally. I had some trouble with my phone after it loaded, phone didn't recognize the keypad on my 8330, but a battery pull solved this and for now, everything is working. Very nice app so far! It works very well on my Curve.

I think this app has more potential promise than we see right now... it's a great idea, really neat idea, but is a little buggy and hard to use. I'd love to see them work on this and come back with a new and improved urban spoon app.

The areas may be abit broad. Im right in the CBD and its sending me on 20 min drives! oh well its still pretty cool. Looks nice also.

I cant seem to click on the User Rating to see more info online, and see reviews either. Not sure if this is an OS issue or what. Anybody have insight?

Does anyone know why it doesn't work on the storm? I live in San Antonio TX and the GPS can't find the location. When it tries to load the database of cities to pick from it times out and i get a network connection error from that software. Any help?