Think about your average, smartphone-enabled visit to a new restaurant: You sit down, take a gander at the menu and quickly pull out your phone to look up the latest Foursquare tips and Yelp reviews. Some are novels of glowing hyperbole while others lament the irritable waitress and denounce the spot as the diner on the seventh level of hell. Either way, you often find yourself overwhelmed and more confused than when you started out.
Loopt, the mobile location tracking app and social network, announced today a new feature called Loopt Qs, "a fun, really social way to get bite-sized insider info and share your own opinions about a local place."
Loopt announced the new feature today on stage at the location-centric Where 2.0 conference. Loopt Qs offers real-time answers to common questions about locations around you - venues, restaurants, bars, and other locations. Is there a long line? What's the best happy hour special here? Is the WiFi fast enough to work?
"Most of the time, reviews are about a place you're really excited about or someplace that really frustrated you," explains the company in a demo video. "The reality is, most places are worth going to. [...] By asking super specific questions that are quick and easy to answer, we capture a lot of the information that gets lost in the shuffle and the fact that it's constantly being updated in real-time makes it sort of a radar for your city."
We've seen this similar functionality in another app called Localmind, which debuted at this year's SXSW conference. With Localmind, users who check in to locations using an LBS service like Foursquare sign up to receive questions about those places. Other Localmind users can then see that there is someone checked-in and ask them a question. It's a one-on-one interaction.
Loopt Qs differs primarily in that it takes a collection of answers from many users and presents them in a graph, giving a simple, quick aggregate of answers. Are portions at this restaurant tiny, just right, or really large? Why take just one answer (potentially from a very large, hungry individual) when you can look at a bar graph of answers and see the most popular answer? This is Loopt's approach with Qs.
Loopt Qs will go live "very soon," with San Franciscans getting first crack and other cities following. If you download the latest version now, the app will notify you when the new feature goes live.