Yelp Takes on Augmented Reality with Monocole App

By Rachel Poor (@calistyle)

Personally I’m not a huge fan of Yelp (full transparency, former SHIFT client) because of the way they treat small businesses, but I’ve become a little obsessed with Augmented Reality recently and couldn’t resist the opportunity to take a look at Yelp Monocle.

I couldn’t have planned a more perfect scenario to test the application I downloaded on my phone a few days prior.  I was in NYC and meeting up with a friend [and potential client] for drinks.  Usually uber-prepared, I was running late and dashed out of our Flatiron District office to meet my friend without having the time to find the perfect place to go.  We met on the adjacent street corner and before we even got done exchanging pleasantries, BAM! I whipped out my Yelp Monocle App and in an instant we had several suggested locations nearby to suit our needs.

How it works:

Monocle uses the phone’s GPS and compass to display markers for restaurants, bars and other nearby businesses on top of the camera’s view.

The Good:

  • It’s free – bonus!
  • You can segment by what you’re looking for – restaurant, bars and even your friends (you have to have a Yelp account for this feature)

The Bad:

  • Only available for 3G users
  • Four out of the five times I tried to use the service I got a “fail” – the infinity symbol and a message prompting me to shake the device in a figure 8
  • It took a while to load even with 3G activated

If you’re on a media tour with a client or need to locate a place nearby to meet a reporter I think Monocle is very helpful.  It’s not much different than using other apps like Around Me or even the regular Yelp app but as “augmented reality,” let’s face it – it just makes you look cool!

Overall, I give it 3.5 out of 5 slices.

PS: Check out this review by Mashable’s Jennifer Van Grove on YouTube to see a quick demo.

1 Response to “Yelp Takes on Augmented Reality with Monocole App”


  1. 1 Colleen Wickwire April 22, 2010 at 6:29 pm

    Good insight Rachel! I definitely plan to check it out now, but will be sure to have a backup plan when it really counts.


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