Developer: Cynapse
Price: $1.99
Version: 1.2

Design Rating: ★★★★☆
Features Rating: ★★★★½
Integration Rating: ★★★★½

Overall Rating: ★★★★½

What do you get whenever you cross social networking with global positioning? Well, you actually get a lot of things, like Foursquare, Twitter, Wikimapia and Google. And that’s what Cynapse, the developers of Localscope, set out to do: bring together the useful information from across all these sites into one easy-to-use, beautifully designed application. They succeeded.

“Always know where you are and what’s around you” reads the official Localscope blurb. “Search for and discover places around your location by gathering information from multiple geo search engines and social networks.” This overview summarizes the application aptly: through data from search engines such as Google and Bing, and social services such as Foursquare and Twitter, Localscope creates a list (and shows an interactive map) of what’s nearby or what you’re looking for.

For example, I punch in “Starbucks” (naturally) into Localscope. Courtesy of Google, Localscope informs me that there’s one Starbucks nearby – 627.24m away, to be precise (via GPS and Google Maps, a distance is automatically calculated with every location of every search). The exact address is given, as well as a contact phone number and a Google Maps URL. I can also open this in the Maps application, set it as my current location or add the number to my contacts list. If I’m in a sharing mood, e-mail, Facebook and Twitter integration have me sorted to tell the world about this local Starbucks.

List view is one of two options in this case: the other being Maps. Localscope has integrated Google Maps into its application, along with a three dimensional compass to point you in the right direction. This compass even works on the iPad, which Apple did not include natively in the Maps application.

Note: screenshots have been taken on an iPhone 3G, which does not have the GPS capability.

The search engine isn’t perfect – I know that there’s more than one Starbucks nearby in this case. But this isn’t much a problem: I flick over to searching with Microsoft Bing, and lo and behold, every Starbucks I can think of in the Belfast area is shown. Zooming out, every Starbucks in Ireland is shown. Localscope is determined to get me my coffee this morning.

Twitter integration searches for every GPS-tagged tweet with the word “Starbucks” in it, placing a pin on a map just like all other search options. Suddenly, Belfast appears alive with social networking. Foursquare shows all the Starbucks check-in, solidifying my earlier findings.

The interface behind Localscope is relatively sleek and chic, with no ads and minimal fuss. Emphasis is placed on minimalism and clarity, characteristics suited to an application of this nature. A number of preset searches, such as “Bank” and “Pharmacy” exist, and each user-entered search is saved into the preset list. Swipe either way to delete. Starred searches exist to save precious time.

I’m impressed with Localscope. It’s one of those applications that you don’t know when you’ll need it, but you’ll remember exactly why you bought it when you do need it. And for that reason, I highly recommend this one.

Posted in: iPhone Apps and Games, Navigation, Reviews

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