App Review: WhitePages for webOS 21
Developer James Harris, who is known for his work on many other popular apps for webOS, was hired by WhitePages to build a webOS client for their service, so we knew that this was going to be an excellent app from the start. What we didn't expect, though, was that the company would be officially supporting homebrew patches that integrate their app even more completely with the platform. That's what makes this review a little different: with a homebrew patch and an app that work so well together, we had to give them both a look.
Overall, the app, which is available for all current webOS devices 1.4.1 and up, is a solid one. The ability to be able to look up contact details for any business, person or doing reverse lookups (inputting a phone number to find the person behind it) is invaluable on a smartphone. I'm finding this app replacing others that I have been using up until now, and it's saving me a whole lot of time by keeping the Google Maps app from loading (for five minutes) each time I want to search for something nearby.
After the break you'll get the full app-rundown and we'll also take a look at the patch that's included, as well as integration with another of James' Apps, Mobile Florist, to show what other developers might be able to do in the future to integrate their apps to the WhitePages database.
When you first install the WhitePages app on your device, you notice that it is extremely clean and easy to navigate. There are four options to click through to other views: People Search, Business Search, Reverse Phone and Recent Results. Once you click through each of these views, you have the ability to input some data, like Name and Zip-Code, and do a search. It's pretty straight forward, which is what we like, but that also means we don't have much else to say about those views.
Once you do a search for either businesses of people, you get a full list of locations that meet your criteria nearby. Initially you'll be able to see the top ten related results in this view, but if you scroll to the bottom there is a nice "Next" button that will allow you to move forward through the results ten at a time to find the exact location that you want. There are also sponsored results that are related to your search at the top of each view, but these won't get in your way like a typical ad does, and in fact might give you what you were looking for. We found a few of these to be useful in our searches.
Clicking on one of those results gives you a new view with contact details and a static map (using Google Maps API) of the surrounding area to that location. Tap that image and it loads Google Maps for you, though it does seem faster than a fresh load of the Googly Application, or tap the phone number and it opens the dialer. You do also get the four options at the bottom, with two of them allowing those same tasks of opening the dialer and google maps, You can also save those contact details to your phone or send them in an Email or SMS.
In our line of work, we sometimes get a lot of phone calls from people that we don't necessarily know or have saved in our contacts. The Reverse Phone feature comes in handy for this, and allows us to check who it is that was calling us before we initiate that awkward conversation of why we didn't save their number in our phones. Since WhitePages covers nearly 200 Million Americans already, most of your callers will be easily found by the app, and you'll be able to save those details quickly for later reference just as before.
And that brings us to the next big feature from this WhitePages app, which actually comes in the form of a patch that you can get in Preware. The WhitePages Lookup from Dialer patch allows the user to do a reverse lookup of the phone number that called you with just the tap of a new button that shows below "Add to Contacts." Once selected, the WhitePages app will load and automatically place that phone number in the input box and then do a search for that number in their database. It's as simple as that.
That's not nearly all, though. The app also allows for integration with other applications, as the example from James' Mobile Florist app shows us. If you launch the Mobile Florist application and you're going through the process of purchasing a bouqet of flowers for someone, rather than inputting the contact details and address by hand, which can be a problem if you don't know them, you can tap the small green and white 'w' to launch the White Pages app and do a search for that person's address. Once you get to the details view, you'll see a new option to "Send to Mobile Florist" and populate the fields in that app instantly.
James tells us that this functionality will be available for other application developers to connect with in the future as well, so hopefully we'll begin to see more apps bringing the complete WhitePages database over to work for them and their users.
One of the last features of the app that we really love comes from that opening page once you launch it. At the bottom of your list of search options, you'll see a fourth item that says "Recent Results". Any time that you open a contact to see their details, whether it's through a person or business search, or even a reverse phone lookup, that result will be saved to this list for quick reference. This is just in case you closed the app before saving that person/business to your contacts, or even for managing a separate list from your contacts to keep tabs on businesses that you frequent. If you want to delete results from that list, simply swipe the items and select delete, or wipe the entire list clear with the button on the bottom left.
As a free app, WhitePages brings us a whole lot of much needed functionality that we've been needing. The integration with webOS 2.x features like JustType, the potential collaboration between app developers to sync in with the data, and the patch to make reverse phone lookup so much easier, all make this app one of the favorites in the catalog. It's no wonder that this app is in the Top Ten list on other mobile platforms, but would we be wrong in saying that our version is even better than WhitePages for iOS or Android?
Well, James, and the whole WhitePages team, have made it extremely easy to say the answer to that question is 'No.' Grab the app from the catalog for free now and be sure to leave your own review to give feedback. Now... when are those other larger companies bringing their apps over to our catalog? WhitePages has set the bar pretty high, maybe they're just a little scared. ;)