Citysearch, the InterActiveCorp-owned local search platform, has finally released an iPhone application. The app derives your location using the iPhone’s GPS and then serves up local restaurants, bars, businesses, and other points of interest. If you’re looking for something specific you can narrow down the search in a bunch of different ways: by category, keyword, and attributes such as distance and cost. Once you’ve found a place of interest, you can view its location on a map and details such as its phone number and address.
Citysearch for the iPhone also has a big focus on editorial content and reviews and allows you to submit reviews right from the iPhone, pictures and other multimedia included. This is a key feature that will help differentiate Citysearch from competitors like Yelp and Zagat–neither of which currently allow direct reviews from the iPhone, though a recent app update from Yelp lets you submit pictures. From my perspective, and I think I rank as an average person, I’d be more likely to submit a review of a restaurant or bar when I’m there or immediately after. By the time I get home, I’d be unlikely to sit down at my computer and spill out my thoughts. This will definitely help increase the potential of Citysearch to improve on an already vast database of user-generated reviews and content.
The application also allows keeps a history of your previous searches and lets you bookmark your favorites, saving you time during subsequent searches.
It’s a good time for Citysearch to release the application. Back in mid-November, the company completed a 18-month long overhaul of its search platform. Previous to its completion, Citysearch only served larger metropolitan areas, but now includes over 75, 000 cities, towns and neighborhoods. Because of the more comprehensive coverage which transfer to the iPhone app, you’re really able to narrow down your search. It is also one of the first dot-com properties to implement Facebook Connect into its site.
All of the changes have been put into place for one reason–in my opinion anyway. That reason? Yelp. An up-and-coming directory site similar in functionality to Citysearch, but much faster in the innovation department, it seems that Yelp has better coverage in the United States and, just recently Canada. Citysearch’s revamp put it in place as the premier provider of Australian listings, but in the long-term I think Yelp will pull ahead. Not so much because it’s the better product, but because it’s the Mac to Citysearch’s PC. It’s just hipper–I mean, they even sell cool clothes. Recent Compete statistics from November show that Citysearch’s traffic hasn’t grown at all–even decreased slightly–over the past year, while Yelp boasts a 230 percent increase in traffic.
Yelp is also among the most popular GPS-enabled review apps in the app store currently, behind Urbanspoon and Google Earth. With a two month jump on Citysearch, the latter will be in tough to make up ground in this area. A year from now it’ll be worth it to compare the two applications again, but I’d put my money on Yelp.