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iPhone App Review: Localscope

iPhone App Review: Localscope

January 8th, 2011 by

Throwing their hat into the ring of social media and mapping simultaneously is Localscope, billed as the social data powered GPS tool. What in the world does that even mean? Join me as I delve into the app’s innards and we’ll figure that out together, shall we?

So… What Is It?

The concept of the app is one that combines GPS and mapping software with major search engines and social media, giving you a seamless view across multiple services of the world immediately surrounding you. You can discover the area nearby, or search a term once and view it through the lens of the multiple search providers, and choose to view anything and everything on a list, a map, or through augmented-reality view.

How It Works

The first screen you see gives you a list of common search categories (coffee shop, bank, hotel…), plus a search box. Tap on something or enter a search term, and the view switches to a list nearby results. Tapping the button on the top right gives you the option to view results on a map or in augmented reality, while sliding along the icons at the bottom lets you view the same search through Google, Bing, Foursquare, Twitter, and Wikimapia.

That is basically the app in a nutshell, in terms of basic operation. If you’ve never used augmented reality, you basically hold the phone up and view the world through the camera lens, while the app overlays the search results on the picture.

Pros And Cons

The app is slick and well done, giving you the feeling that you’re using something professionally made and designed and well thought out.

There are lots of nice little touches too, like on every screen having the ability to drag a screen up from the bottom that shows your current location on a map: it’s so easy when browsing an area in map mode (or in AR mode, for that matter) to become adrift without knowing how to drag the map back to where you really are. It’s also nice to be able to easily see yourself without the clutter of little red search pins all over the place.

The augmented reality is done nicely, overlaying target icons that show you the locations of search results.  A target turning red indicates that you’re pointing right at it, and each target gives you a distance so you can estimate how far you need to stagger to reach the next pub.

There are a couple of quirky things that I think could be improved: you can only swipe to select different search engines or social media, but it would be nice if you could also tap the icon and jump to the results. To this day I still tap on Bing when doing a search before I remember to swipe and scroll the row of icons instead.

One other weird thing is when trying to tap a pin on a map to bring up information, you have to slightly hold the tap in order for anything to happen. It’s not a big deal, but it’s different from the standard “pin behavior” in the iOS Maps app, and again is something that you just forget that you need to do differently so you keep doing it wrong every time.

So Is It Good?

In a word yes, the app is a very good one. Everything about it is done well and with a sharp eye to detail (minus the two little annoyances mentioned above). I’m not sure I quite understand how to fully realize the potential of this app just yet, but I am sure that there are users out there who do realize the full potential of the app and have been dying for something like this, without even realizing it. For 99 cents why not try it out now and see if you’re that user?

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