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Lifestyle: Urbanspoon

Urbanspoon

Screenshot by Peter May

A great app can make your life easier and more fun at the same time. Urbanspoon solves a problem that has vexed mankind throughout the ages: where to eat.

Urbanspoon uses a creative, clever interface, combined with an extensive database, to suggest restaurants that meet your criteria for type of food, location and cost. Or, if you're completely undecided, just give it a shake and see what comes up.

Urbanspoon uses the iPhone's GPS capability to determine your current location. If you prefer, you can also enter a city manually. Fire it up and you'll find a main screen that looks like a slot machine with three tumblers. On the left is a list of local cities. In the center, various restaurant styles such as Italian, Chinese or American. Or you can choose categories such as fast food, sandwiches or pizza. The right tumbler provides a guide to the expected cost using a scale of one to four dollar signs.

Shake your iPhone and the tumblers begin to spin, stopping on a random item in each column. You can also freeze any column to limit the choices. When the tumblers stop, a restaurant suggestion appears at the bottom. Tap the name and you will see a page describing the facility and, when available, showing an actual menu. You can call the restaurant with a single tap or view a map showing its location. Google Maps is available to provide driving directions.

Other cool features enable you to share information with friends via e-mail or on Facebook. You can also browse the local database or search for a specific restaurant. No matter which restaurant you choose, however, the bill is still on you.

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