It’s easy to dismiss the Yellow Pages as a ‘has-been’ from a bygone generation. But the concept, first introduced by Yellow Pages all the way back in the 1880s, of searching and finding local business information, is still hugely relevant. These days of course, Yellow Pages is online and on your smartphone. No need to plow through oversized, inky phonebooks any more (even if they still appear on your doorstep from time to time).
AT&T still owns the familiar Yellow Pages brand, and it just updated its free YP Yellow Pages & Gas Prices app on Android. In these days of local powerhouses like Yelp and Google, plus hundreds of other apps offering similar services, how does the original fare?
A positive first impression
The answer is: pretty darn well on the whole. Upon launching the app, there’s a small guided-tour to introduce you to the main features and it’s easy to follow. The app finds your location and posts it at the top of the home page. There’s even the local temperature which you can click on for a more in-depth weather forecast, which I thought was a nice touch.
You can find a nearby business by searching, or choose from one of the scrollable yellow icons like coffee, pizza, movie theaters, banks, hotels or autos. Choosing one of these lets you drill deeper and browse the Yellow Pages directory. This method of finding information is certainly a little more ‘old school’ than searching, but YP has always been about their extensive directory, and seeing competing businesses nearby to your location categorized by subject can be very useful.
Plenty of customization
Under the main search box and icons are special deals and offers for local businesses nearby. The deals look like they are provided by Citysearch, but it’d be nice to see those offered by Groupon or LivingSocial one day -- perhaps in a future releases, AT&T?
There is also an events section which many could find useful when visiting a new city, or even if you’re looking for new things to do near your current location.
The ability to choose which searches you want on your home screen is also very nice. If you find yourself moving from area to area but always looking for a certain kind of business, then pinning that search to your home screen is useful. Having the nearest best-value gas prices readily available will also be of benefit to drivers and vehicle owners out there.
Results are everything, some even dead on
Searches work quickly and the results seem logically organized. If you search, say for “headphones” (although I was suggested the somewhat gruesome “headstones” as a “did you mean?” alternative), the results were what I’d expect: Walgreens, RadioShack, etc., but also a few electronics companies that certainly weren’t retailers. YP would do well to help separate consumer searches from business-to-business ones, but admittedly, the search term was a little vague.
Some listings/businesses are reasonably well populated with reviews, but not to the extent of something like Yelp. Once again, reviews are sourced from Citysearch, YP itself and something called Judy’s Book, which admittedly I wasn’t familiar with before using the app.
Overall, the YP Yellow Pages & Gas Prices app is a worthy addition to your ever-increasing arsenal of local-based apps. With accurate information about nearby businesses (especially in terms of address and phone number data) it can be a handy ally. Though it offers fewer user reviews than some of the competition, it does a good job of helping you find specific things quickly, and the ability to save searches, the handy weather indicator, local events, and the nearby gas prices at a glance feature make it worth checking out. There’s certainly no shortage of information available here.