For example, let's say you're visiting Boston, with no idea where to dine. Launch Urbanspoon, and it will find your location (as long as the city is in its database, which Boston is). Shake your iPhone, and you may get Newton (for neighborhood), American (cuisine type), and two dollar signs (price range). The restaurant displayed matching those three attributes, in my test, was Union Street Restaurant. You can lock any of the reels, too. So if I only wanted to look for restaurants in Newton, I could click the lock icon under the neighborhood reel after it landed on Newton. I could also manually spin any of the three reels. The interface is fun to use and encourages exploration.
Like other apps offered through iTunes, Urbanspoon could use some refinement. For example, listed among Union Street Restaurant's reviews was a link to Boston magazine. I assumed if I clicked that link, I'd be able to read a review--or at least excerpts of one--of the restaurant. Instead, Urbanspoon took me to a Boston magazine Web page where I had to manually enter Union Street Restaurant as a search term. The search returned 61 results, listing Union Station the Restaurant, Union Oyster House, Union League Cafe--but no Union Street Restaurant.
Still, Urbanspoon is free, it's extremely cool, and it may help you discover a restaurant nearby. So who's to complain?
Note: This link takes you to the vendor's site--and then the iTunes App Store, where you can download the latest version of the software.
--James A. Martin