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This Week at 148Apps: May 18-22, 2015

Posted by Chris Kirby on May 24th, 2015

May Days at 148Apps

How do you know what apps are worth your time and money? Just look to the review team at 148Apps. We sort through the chaos and find the apps you're looking for. The ones we love become Editor’s Choice, standing out above the many good apps and games with something just a little bit more to offer. Take a look at what we've been up to this week, and find even more in our Reviews Archive.


Earthcore: Shattered Elements

Presentation is often a very important element for a video game, even if it’s a game based around cards like Earthcore: Shattered Elements is. The problem is that there’s also such a thing as too much presentation - and this is a fairly prevalent issue in Earthcore’s early moments.Push through it and you’ll find an enjoyable and accessible card battler.--Rob Rich


Horizon 3

Need to organize your life? I know the feeling. Fortunately, Horizon 3 is a stylish way to do precisely that. It’s not perfect as it has a few bugs, but it’s still a pretty convenient way of organizing your calendar.Immediately offering up a page full of your week’s events, Horizon 3 is quick to get going. At a glance, you can easily see what’s ahead of you. Besides offering timings on that screen, you can also see location details and even what weather you should expect during that time. Simply tap on an item and you can quickly edit its details, with a swipe to the left enabling you to add a new appointment. --Jennifer Allen


KANO

I’m not sure why anyone would willingly start bouncing around on top of an active volcano, but that’s exactly what’s happening in KANO. Despite the obvious safety concerns, however, it’s actually a very entertaining (and quite good-looking) little time waster. You control a rotatable platform made up of four differently colored zones (Red, Green, Blue, and Yellow), and all you have to do is keep the multicolored tiki-looking heads in the air for as long as possible. The rub is that with each bounce, the head’s color will change - so you then need to spin the platform with a swipe in order to line up the corresponding color. --Rob Rich


Tofu Hunter

Tofu Hunter is a fun time waster of a game. A parody of all those hunting games that are already out there, your sole purpose here is to shoot tofu. Because tofu is alive and dangerous, right?You do this by partaking in various missions and gradually unlocking new weapons and upgrades. It’s all very typical of the genre, but with soy-based creatures. You use one finger to move around the screen, while in the bottom right hand corner you can hit the shoot button. You can zoom in to, for those shots that need some extra accuracy behind them.--Jennifer Allen


Languinis: Match and Spell

Combining match-3 with word creation is a smart move for Languinis. It means it’s an entertainingly different casual puzzle game that’s likely to hold your attention.Divided up into various levels as is the way with such games, you’re given multiple objectives each time. These often relate to both sides of the game. While you’re matching colored gems, you also have to create words from the letter tiles that appear afterwards. The key is to keep on top of both. You can’t succeed by solely focusing on one side of things.--Jennifer Allen


Knights of Pen & Paper 2

While the comedic moments are still a little hit and miss, Knights of Pen & Paper 2 is easily a refined and superior version compared to its predecessor. In many ways, it’s the perfect mobile game, easily allowing you to achieve something in a short space of time, without being impeded by your location or your free time.As before, it’s an RPG akin to Dungeons & Dragons with you listening to the games master and taking decisions from a variety of choices. You start out with two characters, picking out a race and class for them, before pursuing the adventurer’s life. With enough gold, you can unlock more characters to fight by your side.-Jennifer Allen


Other 148Apps Network Sites

If you are looking for the best reviews of Android apps, just head right over to AndroidRundown. Here are just some of the reviews served up this week:


AndroidRundown


Neposmart Camera

The confluence of mobility and connected devices is alive and well, and home security is a big portion of this. Another minor problem are all those spare smartphones.Neposmart a looks to zap these concerns with one solution: a connected camera that can be controlled and monitored from a smartphone.The review package we received was a bit fuller than expected: the camera, ethernet cable, power adapter, mounting materials, documentation, bell wire and magnetic switch (the last two for intelligent garage setup).--Tre Lawrence


Logitech Keys-To-Go Bluetooth Keyboard

I feel pretty proficient on virtual keyboards, but every now and then, one needs a good portable keyboard to do the heavy lifting.
Enter Logitech. Enter Keys-To-Go Ultra-Portable Bluetooth Keyboard.The review package Logitech sent us, which reflects the retail presentation, contains the keyboard, a hard grey plastic device stand, USB charging cable and documentation. The unit is light, almost shockingly so; the advertised size and weight definitely come across as a benefit when the keyboard is handled. The review unit came in bright blue, with whitish keys lettering and a tight, rubberized FabricSkin finish. The micro-USB charging port and a discrete power toggle are nestled on the side, and altogether, the piece feels quite durable. Officially, it comes in at 9.5 x 5.4 x 0.2 inches and 6.4 ounces.--Tre Lawrence


WorldPenScan X

WorldPenScan X is an interesting Kickstarted gadget that brings document scanning/OCR functionality and translation to folks on the go.In hand, it’s not nearly as thin as (or much longer than) a regular ballpoint pen at 4.52 x 1.29 x 0.88 inches and under 2 ounces; it looks more like a mid-sized temporal thermometer. It’s mostly white, with a hard plastic finishing. The business end (which is initially hidden by a greyish cap) has the image capture hardware assembly, and tapers a bit.--Tre Lawrence

All this, plus Apple Watch reviews of CityMapper, Yelp, and Evernote.

Yelp Apple Watch Review

+ Universal & Apple Watch App - Designed for iPhone, iPad and Apple Watch
By Jennifer Allen on May 20th, 2015
Our rating: starstarstarstarhalfstar :: ESSENTIAL
Yelp is an essential for any Apple Watch owner.
Read The Full Review »

Doughbot Lets You Find the Nearest Donut Shop, Integrates Yelp Reviews

Posted by Stephen Hall on April 1st, 2014
iPhone App - Designed for iPhone, compatible with iPad

Sometimes, you just really need a doughnut. And if you're lost and don't know which way to turn (and don't want to open up Yelp and type "donuts"), a new app called Doughbot will come to the rescue. The app, as you might expect, takes your current location and finds the nearest doughnut shops and then presents them to you via the app's simplistic and beautiful user interface.

The app gives you navigation and walking directions when you've found the shop you want, has reviews for shops in-app that are pulled from popular review platform Yelp, and includes photo galleries powered by Instagram. Really there's no better doughnut-finding app out there, and this one costs only $0.99 - about the same as a doughnut. You can get Doughbot on the App Store right now.

Nifty Deals Review

iPhone App - Designed for iPhone, compatible with iPad
By Angela LaFollette on October 21st, 2013
Our rating: starstarstarstarblankstar :: THRIFTY
Browse through the best deals from over 2,000 sites to get great local savings without worrying about privacy invasion or signing up for unnecessary inbox spam.
Read The Full Review »

5 Years and Counting - The App Store Then and Now

Posted by Rob Rich on July 12th, 2013

Over one million apps have made their way onto the App Store during its five years of existence. A million. That's a pretty miraculous number when you think about it. However it's not the amount of apps we have to pick from that I find so fascinating, but rather just how much things have changed since 2008. Pickings were comparatively slim at first, and many developers were just starting to dip a toe in the waters of Apple's new smartphone.

On top of that, the technology itself has changed tremendously in a relatively small amount of time. It makes me wonder if anyone from 2008 would even recognize current iOS devices, and by extension the App Store. Would a newer Apple initiate have any idea what they were looking at if they somehow managed to take a trip to five years ago? I think it warrants a look at how the hardware, the App Store, and the apps contained within it have evolved.

2008 - The Beginning of the Beginning

The App Store's first year was a rough but promising one. The iPhone 3G rolled out to coincide with Apple’s new software venue and the original iPhone was still viable. The iPod touch was also present and accounted for, while the second generation appeared closer to the end of the year. Even at this point many developers were eager to push these early iOS devices to their limits, to make them more than just a phone or an .mp3 player with a fancy screen.

Handy apps like Pandora Radio, Last.FM, Facebook, and Yelp were to be expected, but that didn't make them any less impressive to have on a handheld platform. Others such as the intuitive personal organizer Evernote, the eerily accurate song-identifying app Shazam, eWallet’s convenient and secure account password management, and MLB At Bat with its extensive baseball coverage further capitalized on the particulars of the hardware and its general portability. Of course there were also some pretty unnecessary options out there, too. Flashlight kind of served a purpose but was also fairly pointless. It wasn't as bad as stuff like More Cowbell!, though.

At the same time, the games available on the App Store were beginning to show people that "mobile" didn't have to equal "mediocre." Sure there were a few simple ports of the odd classic such as Ms. PAC-MAN, Vay, and Scrabble, but there were also some impressive iOS renditions of popular console games like Super Monkey Ball coming out. Potential mobile gamers also had a few really special titles such as Galcon and Fieldrunners to tide them over. When all was said and done there were over 7,500 apps on the App Store by the end of the year, with more being added every day.

2009 - Moving Right Along

The following year saw even more impressive releases as Apple's digital marketplace began to expand. The second generation of iPod Touch was the bright and shiny new toy at the time, but it was followed shortly by the iPhone 3GS in June while the latest and greatest third generation Touch closed out the year in September. It all meant better processors, better CPUs, more advanced operating systems, and so on. All stuff that developers needed to acclimate to, but also stuff that meant they could push their boundaries even further. There was no loss of steam when it came to content, either: the App Store finished off 2009 with well over 100,000 apps available.

Many of the basic smartphone necessities were covered, but there was room for so much more. Especially while the technology was improving. Plenty of people used their iPhones as phones, sure, but with the addition of Skype they were able to enjoy the added functionality of instant messaging and voice chat without cutting into their data plans (so long as a wifi connection was present). Big companies were really starting to take notice as well. That same year Starbucks and many other big businesses threw their virtual hats into the ring with their own apps designed to make life a little bit easier for their iOS-using customers. Practicality was also becoming an even bigger focus. The Kindle app gave iOS users a practical e-reading option, and Dropbox was there being Dropbox. By which I mean "an awesome and super-convenient way to transfer files between multiple platforms." And this same level of refinement could be seen creeping into the games as well.

So many of the App Store's most notable games and franchises came out around this time. It was almost a mobile rennaisence of a sort. This was the year Real Racing first blew mobile gamers' minds, even causing some of them to question the legitimacy of in-game video footage until they were able to see the finished product for themselves. Zenonia was just a fledgling action RPG at the time, and while a lot of people liked it I doubt they knew just how many sequels it would spawn. The same goes for Pocket God, although with updates rather than multiple releases. Flight Control began to eat away at peoples' free time, Angry Birds and Doodle Jump hit it big (like, super big), and Myst and The Sims 3 further displayed the potential for major releases on mobile platforms. Oh, and Canabalt almost single-handedly invented and popularized a genre.

App Store Fifth Anniversary: The Ten Best Apps And Games From 2008

Posted by Rob LeFebvre on July 10th, 2013

The App Store launched July 10, 2008 and brought with it a whole new way of distributing and purchasing software. The first several months were a wild west frontier of pricing, business models (or the lack thereof), and genre, making the iPhone the place to be.

As the years have gone by, things have gotten more crowded, more predictable, and perhaps more "same-old" to some. Let's take a look back at those early, heady days with ten of the best iOS apps from the launch of the App Store.

Cro-Mag Rally - Kart racing with cavemen? Yes, please! This launch title from veteran Mac developer Pangea showed us all how much fun the iPhone could be, paving the way for a host of ports and new gaming experiences on the go.

AIM - Before the recent spate of apps that bring multi-client, desktop-style instant messaging to the iPhone and iPad, there was only AOL Instant Messenger, or AIM. This launch title clued us in to the future of always being in touch, even if we didn't know it at the time.

Fieldrunners - Oh, tower defense games, why do you torment us so? Fieldrunners took the concept already on the web in Flash games and brought it to the devices we had in our pockets every day, iterating its tower defense gameplay to a fine polish. We were hard-pressed to stop playing, to be honest, and still are.



Yelp - Like Urbanspoon, Yelp brought location-based awareness together with user-based opinions on local restaurants and coffee shops at a level we'd never seen before. Yelp has become an indispensable tool when traveling, and even while staying in our hometown, letting us find interesting places to eat and drink at a price we can afford.

Super Monkey Ball - Wait, we were just playing this on our GameCube! How cool is it that we can tilt our iPhones and roll that adorable monkey around the maddeningly difficult tracks? Ten bucks! That's a sweet deal! Oh, what a difference half a decade makes.

Google Earth - This one came out in October of 2008, quickly amazing us all with its innovative zooming interface as well as its comprehensiveness. Finally, we thought, an interesting app from Google.

Rolando - Wow! This game showed us that we didn't have to own a PSP to get a quality arcade puzzle platform game like Loco Roco. It also allowed the early promise of ngmoco;) to shine forth like a beacon in the wilderness.

MLB At Bat - Updated on a yearly basis since 2008, MLB At Bat came onto the scene like a home run, proving that this little App Store thing was for more than just fart apps and casual games. Serious sports fans rejoiced in 2008 when this baby was released.

Galcon - This real-time space-themed strategy game was ready on day one of the App Store, bringing a depth of gameplay not seen yet. While games like Mushroom Wars and the like have since iterated on the concept, Galcon remains a perennial favorite.

Evernote - This essential app has been around since day one, and still continues to improve. Evernote showed us how important it was to have access to our notes, files, and pictures across all the devices we used, whether they were on a desktop or in our pocket.

Location-Based App Grafetee Promises to be More Than Another Location-Based Service Thanks to the Finnish Police?!

Posted by Carter Dotson on October 30th, 2012

Another day, another location-based app, right? Well, Grafetee (pronounced gră-fə-tee,) is really not the same as something like Saga in that it’s meant to be both a location service as well as a framework to integrate in other location services.

Its exclusive functionality is location-based bookmarks. This allows people to share notes based on their current location, including photos. These bookmarks can be shared privately with other users through an 8-digit alphanumeric code, that allows them to join in and create their own notes. For example, a private directory of restaurants and bars visited could be created and shared between friends. This works without logging in to anything, and photos are shareable between platforms, as the app is on both iOS and Android.

But where Grafetee will be at its most immediately interesting for users is the way that it integrates in third-party services: right now, it uses various APIs to add in Foursquare tips, Yelp listings, Flickr and Instagram photos, Geocaches, and even Wikipedia listings nearby. All of these can be toggled as different visual layers, or displayed in a text list.

This is where the developer of the app hopes its long-term value comes from: being able to add in other services to make it more useful. One creative use is in the developer’s native Finland, they made it possible to let users report information to the police with Grafetee. As explained by Juha Huttennen of Grafetee: “The Finnish police for example, is using Grafetee to crowdsource crime-related data that is not urgent. So they don’t want you to use the app instead of calling 911 but they want you to give out data if you find something that threatens security or if there is a distrubance that you want the police to note and perhaps later act on. Like…if there is a street crossing that is dangerous, or if there is a stop sign that people usually disregard or whatever. They want to collect stuff like this from the public, instead of getting these calls to 911 or direct emails complaining about the same things. It definitely helps them to ease their workload and gives the public a channel.” It was launched nationwide in the past weeks. How did Grafetee get involved with the Finnish police? “I called them.”

One of the other benefits of Grafetee’s approach is that it isn’t necessarily crippled if it grows too big for its britches: controversies over shut-off API access have arisen around Tumblr, LinkedIn, and Instagram with Twitter, for example. With Grafetee providing their own bookmarking service, if Foursquare pulls access, they still have other services, including others that may come into the app’s ecosystem, including ones that may pay to be part of the app if it catches on. Given the potential of its open framework and the fact that a governmental organization is already using it, it’s just a question of further adoption by not just users – but those who may get use out of a location-based app like Grafetee.

Leap2: Global & Mobile Searching Made Smarter

Posted by Jennifer Allen on August 13th, 2012
iPhone App - Designed for iPhone, compatible with iPad

Leap2 is the latest app that aims to make it easy to search through social media, as well as other web results.

Referred to as a 'living search platform', the app makes it simple to browse through all kinds of search results at once, covering both web results and real-time hits from people. It's the kind of resource that should prove particularly useful in times of breaking news or sports results, as well as providing a great way of gauging public reaction to something.

This all sounds much like Twitter's trending topics, but the bonus to Leap2 is that it incorporates more than just Twitter. Users create a 'leap' they're interested in to receive continuing updates which stems from the likes of Bing, Yahoo! Local, Foursquare, Yelp and Twitter. It's all very simple to browse yet potentially quite powerful.

Adaptable for everything from the latest news, hype about a new movie or the local weather report, Leap2 is an interesting and free way of checking out plenty of different viewpoints at once.

UpNext Maps Review

By Kevin Stout on May 14th, 2012
UpNext Maps have 3D maps for select cities as well as venue searches and navigation everywhere.
Read The Full Review »

LoSo Totally Redesigns Itself for Version 2.0

Posted by Brad Hilderbrand on February 15th, 2012

LoSo, a location-based restaurant and bars app which bills itself as a combination of FourSquare and Yelp, has announced a complete redesign as part of the version 2.0 update. New features include user profiles, as well as a real-time news feed linked to social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter.

The most significant new addition is the What's Up! feature, which allows users to take photos or videos of local bars and restaurants and instantly upload them to your Facebook page, the restaurant's Facebook page, and LoSo's listings. The app also allows users to check out menus, drink specials and happy hour deals of all participating businesses within 10 miles of their current location. Checking in at participating businesses grants QRewards Points, which can be redeemed for free food and drinks, as well as other prizes.

LoSo is currently testing in the Philadelphia and Boston markets, and will be expanding to Washington D.C, Chicago and Dallas soon.

[itmsapp: 410555291]

Jollyspot: Combining Personal Experience And Yelp

Posted by Jennifer Allen on September 19th, 2011
iPhone App - Designed for iPhone, compatible with iPad

Arriving on the App Store today is a clever combination of trusty local business search engine Yelp and people's experiences of such businesses.

Jollyspot promises to make it easy to remember and share favourite places. Users can find the best hotels, restaurants, bars, cafes, shops, spas and more anywhere in the world all through trusted recommendations from friends who have already used such services. Further advice can then be offered via a notes system that allows users to add information such as the best meal, best time to visit a bar or other useful insider knowledge.

It's a simple concept but potentially highly effective. There's no gamification of social features like with Foursquare and other social apps, it's all about the best places as chosen by regular people/friends. The friends element means the information is guaranteed to be pretty reliable making Jollyspot surely the first port of call for the scoop on the best places to visit.

Jollyspot is available now as a free app.


November 2010 App Hall of Fame Inductees

Posted by Chris Hall on November 9th, 2010

The App Hall of Fame (the original App Hall of Fame, not the Apple knock off) is an independent initiative launched by 148Apps that includes selection committee members from over 40 web and print publications.

Our goal is to archive the very best mobile apps by honoring only 12 applications per month. To be eligible, applications must be available for download from the App Store for at least 6 months. Applications are nominated and voted on monthly by the selection committee with the applications that get the most votes being inducted into the hall of fame.

We want you to join in on the celebration. We'll be giving away copies of the newly inducted applications to subscribers of our mailing list later this week. Subscribe now for a chance to win.

We are very proud to announce the November inductees into the App Hall of Fame:



Harbor Master from Imangi Studios, LLC
OmniFocus from The Omni Group
Reeder from Silvo Rizzi
Yelp from Yelp




Pocket God from Bolt Creative
Real Racing from Firemint
Tilt To Live from One Man Left
Facebook from Facebook



Bebot - Robot Synth from Normalware
Fruit Ninja from Halfbrick Studios
Dropbox from Dropbox
Blue Defense! from John Kooistra


The Hotlist Is A College Kids Dream

Posted by Chris Hall on August 6th, 2010
iPhone App - Designed for iPhone, compatible with iPad

The Hotlist is a geo-social aggregator that finds what's going on around you without you having to do anything at all.

From the press release: "The app aggregates public info from its users Facebook accounts to populate a Google map with events. It then shows them anyone they know who has RSVP'd to a specific event, the guy-to-girl ratio, Yelp reviews of specific locations and any live Tweets to give insight into the pulse of the crowd at a venue or event."

With already 160,000 people on board, and Blackboard and Android users coming soon, The Hotlist is coming together to be the end-all source for what to do on a weekend night. That is, if you like crowds.

All you have to do is get yourself a Facebook account and pick up the app for free. So go on, have some fun!

Best Apps For Finding A Place To Eat

Posted by Chris Hall on March 1st, 2010

I've been hungry lately. Real hungry. Some hunger is conquered by Chipotle, but this hunger is only has one weakness, and it is good, local food. Fortunately for all of us in the same situation, there are plenty of apps for that. Here are the four best, brought to you by the never ending hunger of Chris Hall.

4. Yelp - I really like Yelp when I'm looking for a place to eat. Because of its vast user base, the Yelp app provides more restaurants per search than any other app I've found. There are also more customer review on Yelp than any other service, so if you believe that more is better, Yelp is for you. The problem with Yelp is the fact the reviews are all user based, and very rarely do people give mediocre reviews. When I search for restaurants, everything is right around 4 stars, leaving me to wonder what I should really eat that night. There is an occasional in-depth review, but for the most part people just write something like, "This is THE place to go" with an occasional, "my waiter didn't bring my water fast enough, but I still go four days a week… 1 star!!!".

Tuesday Morning App HQ?

Posted by Chris Hall on December 22nd, 2009

Christmas Time Is Here!
Christmas is in just four days, and the best gift of all is definitely a new iDevice for your loved one. Sure, you could give a plain ol' iPod Touch or iPhone, but wouldn't he/she be so much happier with an iDevice loaded up with a few apps? Here's 4 that I think everyone should have.

1. Tweetie 2
Whether or not the person you are buying your iDevice for uses Twitter or not... they will very soon. They may scoff at the idea now, but the ability to Tweet about your surroundings with text message ease makes the idea far more attractive. Being the best of its kind, Tweetie 2 is the way to go for all of your narcissistic Twitter needs.

2. Midomi Sound Hound
It used to just be called Midomi, and it used to be absolutely free, but given the fact that Shazam charges too, I figured I'd go with Midomi for my recommendation. Like Shazam, Midomi can tag a song out of midair, but it goes one step further and pulls songs that you sing or hum into the mic. Is "Hey Mr. Tambourine Man" stuck in your head, but you can't think of The Byrds? Pull out Midomi and start humming. Warning. If you are entirely tone deaf, this really won't do you much good.

3. Yelp
Sure, it's an old, no-fun app, but it is an app that I use on almost every vacation I take. Just select 'near me', choose 'restaurant', and then pick. It's that easy. If you need a bit more excitement in your life, I'd go with the even older UrbanSpoon, which does the same thing but leaves the selection process to the phone itself. Watching the slot machine selection process is great though.

4. Need For Speed: Undercover
I know I'm going to get flack for this, but here is my rationale. If you are pre-loading a game for this iDevice, I'm assuming that the person is somewhere between the ages of 13-18, and that they like games... otherwise they would probably just go buy their own games. You could certainly take a gamble and buy an RPG like SEED, Zenonia, or Inotia 2, but RPG's really don't show off the system like other games do. Remember, this is the game that people are going to show of to their buds and say, "Pshh, eat that PSP". Personally, I would go with a tower defense game, but there is nothing sexy about tower defense. To show off the full graphics capabilities of the iDevice, I would go with a full speed racer. Most would probably say that Real Racing is the way to go here, but as a show-off piece, it falls in one crucial area... cut scenes. Sure, the cut scene does nothing to enhance the gameplay, but if you really want to stick it to your UMD toting, PSP playing friend, just show them that your iDevice can roll with a game complete with full motion video. NFS: Underground really is the most complete video game on the device, even if it may not be the best.

Vector TD
Speaking of Tower Defense, Candystand just put Vector TD onto the iPhone. Sure, it's not the prettiest thing you'll ever see, but if it's anything like the web version, it will be fun. I'm just now downloading it to my iPhone, but I'll hopefully have a review up soon.

Big Dollars
For all the stories I hear of iPhone devs struggling to make ends meet, it's good to hear a success story or two every once in a while. According to a recent Reuters article, Tapulous says that it is pulling in a million dollars a month from its 'Tap Tap Revenge game series. According to the article, "Earlier this year, research group comScore said the game had been installed by one-third of Apple app users."

Having only 20 employees total, the guys over at Tapulous are certainly doing well for themselves. They aren't the only ones though... Lima Sky, the dev behind the Top 10 Paid App stalwart, Doodle Jump, recently announced that they have passed a million downloads. While they aren't pulling in a $1mil a month, they are splitting all the profit between its 2 employees, Igor and Marko Pusenjak. Merry Christmas indeed.

Big Finish
Well that's all I have for this week. I hope all of you have a great holiday weekend... just don't eat so much that you won't be able to read 148apps on Monday. That just wouldn't be good for anyone.