Home Stamped For iPhone Gets Rid of 5-Star Ratings, Google Ventures Approves

Stamped For iPhone Gets Rid of 5-Star Ratings, Google Ventures Approves

Yesterday, the world got it’s umpteen-millionth iPhone app for recommending your favorite things to all your social media friends. This category is so overstuffed that there were probably several such launches yesterday, but I’m referring to Stamped, an NYC-based startup founded by former Googlers and backed by Google Ventures. Kevin Systrom, co-founder of Instagram, is an advisor, and so is celebrity chef Mario Batali. It’s a high-profile launch, and it shows in the distinctive design of the app.

Do we need another app for recommending cafes and sushi bars to each other? No. But perhaps we should get rid of the older ones and keep Stamped. Its distinguishing feature is the lack of 5-star ratings. If you like something, you just stamp it with approval. Stamped is satisfying to use; there’s no guesswork involved. With Google’s voracious need for consumer data about local businesses, no wonder Google Ventures backed it.

Instead of just hoarding reviews, Stamped controls for the quality of its users to make its recommendations better. You only get 100 stamps to start off, and you get more depending on how popular your reviews are. “Review sites are cluttered with recommendations from people you don’t know and don’t care about,” co-founder/CEO Robby Stein says. “We’re focused on quality – only the people you trust recommending only what they truly like best.”

The app is integrated with Google Places to pull up place data. It also has built-in OpenTable, Amazon, iTunes and Fandango support, so users can act immediately on their friends’ recommendations. In other words, it’s easy to act on the recommendations you find on Stamped.

There’s attention to little details that goes a long way – for instance, you get to customize the color and gradient of your personal stamp. That seems silly, but it makes the list of stamps much easier to scan, and it gives you an emotional signal about the stamper in question. That’s a neat little device, much more useful than trying to interpret what ???½ means to a stranger.

Why Is Google Interested?

It makes sense that Google wants a stake in Stamped. Google has skin in the local recommendations game, and its current Google Places reviews use the same old 5-star rating system as its main competitor, Yelp. With its acquisition of Zagat, Google has secured the jackpot of professional-quality local business reviews, but it needs something distinctive to make user-generated recommendations more interesting.

Stamped’s simplicity and focus on quality sets it starkly apart from the easily gamed recommendations on Yelp. It also couldn’t be more different from the new Kevin Rose project, Oink, which is really complicated and makes scary pig noises. If you’re unsatisfied with the state of recommendation apps, you might find that Stamped is the one that lets you delete the rest of them.

Which social recommendation apps do you use?

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