APP-etites

by DEVON STILES
With more iPhones sold than babies born each day, it’s no wonder that people are turning to their smartphones for every little want and need. Finding a local restaurant is no exception. There are a plethora of apps ready and willing to help you make a dining decision. Here’s a rundown of the top apps for finding local eats in Jacksonville. Simply search the app name in your device’s app store.

UrbanSpoon – UrbanSpoon skyrocketed in popularity when it was featured in iPhone commercials. The slot machine-style “shake” function allows the user to randomly find nearby restaurants based on neighborhood, cuisine type or price point. Users can also search nearby restaurants based on GPS location. With this free app, users can make reservations via Dineline, upload photos, read reviews by other users, leave their own reviews, and compare tastes and experiences with friends.

Yelp – Yelp has long been a leader in online restaurant reviews with more than 25 million user-generated reviews. The free app allows you to make reservations via OpenTable, rate and review restaurants, as well as bookmark favorites. Users can search for nearby restaurants based on neighborhood, distance, price, hours of operation, and check-in specials offered. The app links with Facebook and Twitter to share check-in locations.

FoodSpotting – Unlike other apps, Foodspotting takes a visual approach to finding restaurants. Foodspotting encourages users to only share the foods they love and focuses on a positive network. Users can even share their FoodSpotting photos on Facebook and Twitter within the app. Since its launch in January 2010, nearly 2 million foods have been spotted worldwide via the app. The app also offers recommendations from Travel Channel experts like Anthony Bourdain.

TripAdvisor – Like many other apps, the TripAdvisor app utilizes GPS technology to guide users to nearby restaurants. In addition to finding local restaurants, it’s also capable of finding hotels, flights and attractions. TripAdvisor contains over 60 million user reviews and candid photographs, and it is free for both iPhone and iPad.

Alfred – Dubbed by CNN Money as “your digital best friend,” Alfred makes recommendations based on user preferences from a series of questions regarding favorite local spots. The free app also allows the user to ask based on type of dining experience desired – bars, coffee/tea, brunch, lunch, dinner, and desserts. While the concept is really fantastic and it has lot of potential, Alfred has a lot of outdated information within the app.

Local Eats – Local Eats was the top paid dining app on iTunes in 2010. The app is the product of www.wherethelocalseat.com and focuses on the Top 100 U.S. Cities. Local Eats tends to avoid chain restaurants and has a very user-friendly interface. Users can browse by category and see what is nearby. It lacks a review function, but does provide their Top 100 Award Winners and “Best of” Award Winners.

Happy Hours – Happy Hours is a free guide for finding local happy hour specials at nearby restaurants and bars. Users can search happy hours based on proximity, date and time, as well as read reviews and see photos from other users. Other filters include finding a spot with outdoor seating, live entertainment, free Wi-Fi or even TVs.

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