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iPhone Free Software: UrbanSpoon Is A Fun Way To Find Local Restaurants

UrbanSpoon will put a smile on your face and food in your belly. It uses the iPhone's location services to find restaurants near you. But it's the user interface that's the fun part -- it's the bastard child of a slot machine, Magic 8 Ball, and martini shaker.
UrbanSpoon will put a smile on your face and food in your belly. It uses the iPhone's location services to find restaurants near you. But it's the user interface that's the fun part -- it's the bastard child of a slot machine, Magic 8 Ball, and martini shaker.
UrbanSpoon
When you start UrbanSpoon ( iTunes link), it asks for permission to check your location. Once it does, you get a slot-machine-type interface with three thumbwheels: One containing names of local neighborhoods, one containing a list of cuisines, and one containing price ranges, from one dollar-sign to four. You can select any of the criteria manually, and lock that choice in.

Then, give the iPhone a shake, and the device's built-in accelerometer will detect the movement and set the wheels to spinning. I've found two good shakes do the job. Or, if you're feeling lazy, you can press the "Shake" button at the bottom of the screen.

The wheels spin with suitable sound effects, and when they're done, you get a restaurant recommendation. Click the recommendation to get the address, phone number (tap to dial), Web address if any, and reviews. The service aggregates the reviews from different places on the Web.

The application is as good as any Internet-based restaurant finder -- which is to say it's mediocre. It's no substitute for talking to trusted friends, or going out and trying and finding new restaurants on your own. The New York Times food section reviews UrbanSpoon from a New Yorker's perspective, and finds it wanting. Still, it's a good way to find ideas for places to go out to eat. And the user interface is a hoot.

More free iPhone software:

Twitterific Puts Twitter In Your Pocket

Google Mobile App Streamlines Search

Zenbe Lets You Make Checklists

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