Review: YPmobile 51
When Palm and AT&T are touting the coolness of YPmobile on the new AT&T Palm Pre Plus and Pixi Plus, we’ve came to realize that it’s the exact same app you can already find in the App Catalog. In fact, we’re disappointed in ourselves for skipping over the app so many times, simply because of the name that conjured up images of super-thick books full of phone numbers and really bad ads on thin yellow paper. The free YPmobile app for webOS couldn’t be further from the yellow-paged days of yore, and that’s a good thing.
First released in December 2009, YPmobile has seen numerous updates to its current version (0.6.4). The app still serves the basic function on finding nearby businesses, but does so with exceeding ease and grace. There are several different ways to find local establishments: list search, map search, and browser. Each allows you to look for a specific business (e.g. LaRosa's Pizzeria) or a general category (Pizza).
The on-launch search option is a GPS-pinned map, which also remembers your last search. The maps are provided by Microsoft's Bing, and they’re simply far-and-away better for browsing than the Google Maps option that come on all webOS phones. Bing maps in YPmobile supports double tap and pinch-to-zoom multi-touch functionality far more smoothly than Google Maps, and it scrolls around more easily to boot. Sadly, YPmobile doesn’t attempt to give you routing instructions in addition to business listings: the Bing maps are only for finding business, not getting there.
Back to the map search. Your location appears as the standard blue dot, while the location of search matches appear as green pins. The currently selected (or last selected, if you tap off of a pin) business shows up as a red pin. It’s a small, but useful, touch for easily finding your way back after errant taps. When you select a pin, the map recenters over it and a pop-over listing info box appears with name, location, review, and distance from your current location. The listing box itself has little blue arrows on either side to jump between search results. Tapping on the box will send you to the full business listing.
List view and map view are toggled in the bottom right corner. The list view feels more like a traditional Yellow Pages search, with a sponsored listing (relevancy not guaranteed) appearing at the top of the list. Following are your actual search results, ordered by distance. The same information is displayed here as is with the pop-over listings in map view.
The last way to find businesses is with the browser. Accessed from the Browse option in the drop-down menu, YPmobile has split the browse scene into a carousel of “popular” businesses (i.e. sponsored listings) and a list of popular categories. Tapping any of the popular business will take you back to your last search choice (map or list) and research for that business. The categories option has two different listings. Some are very specific options, like Banks or Drug Stores, and will immediately send you to a map or list view search. Others, like Auto or Restaurants, will drop down into sub-categories so you can refine your search to something like Barbecue Restaurants or Korean Restaurants.
All of that is just to find businesses. Once you’ve found one and tapped on the listing, you’re presented with a page with links to websites, phone numbers, maps, reviews (all from YellowPages.com, naturally), and driving directions (text directions only, no route mapping here). What really makes the listing useful is the ability to save the business in multiple ways. You can easily save a listing into your contacts (and the delete it later, if you so desire). YPmobile also lets you add a location to your calendar, letting you set the name and times without having to actually open the Calendar app. Annoyingly, YPmobile can only write to its own account within Calendar, but that's a limitation of webOS, not the app itself. You can always go to Calendar and move the app into your own personal calendar if you so desire.
If you’re particularly fond of (or simply need to access often) a YPmobile listing, each comes with a Add to Favorites button (Heart +) in the bottom right corner to save it to your favorites. These saved listings can be accessed from anywhere in the app by selecting Favorites from the drop-down menu.
Lastly, there’s the history list, again accessed from the drop-down menu. History displays a list of all your viewed listings (but not past searches, which may or may not be a good thing). As you likely have figured out by now, tapping on any entry in the History list will take you to the full listing. If you don’t want something saved in your history, you can merely swipe it to the side to delete. And if you want to clear the history, there’s a little trashcan in the bottom right corner calling your name.
While we’re still confused as to why a pre-installed freely available App Catalog app is worthy of inclusion on a press release, we are glad that Palm has brought it to our attention. Too many times we skipped over YPmobile because of the antiquated connotations of its name, and that we do regret. YPmobile is a fantastic way to find nearby businesses with simple and intuitive controls and options.
With the ability to easily save listing as contacts, favorites, and calendar entries, YPmobile’s search capabilities put it far and away above Google Maps. Of course, it can’t get you there as easily as Google Maps can (though on the AT&T Pre Plus and Pixi Plus YPmobile is integrated with AT&T Navigator), Google Maps is nowhere near as good at finding stuff and providing relevant information on webOS. If anything, YPmobile has us yearning for a proper and full-featured mapping app, and we wouldn’t mind if it was mapping options that were tacked onto YPmobile instead of the superior search features of YPmobile onto a lesser mapping app. Yeah, YPmobile is that good, and we feel silly for not noticing before.
YPmobile is available for free from the App Catalog.