How many times have you found yourself in the position in which you’re hungry, but you’re not sure where to go. Sure, you could hit up one of your go-to spots (that would Chipotle for me), but perhaps you want to do something a bit different. There are a handful of apps on the App Store that can help you in this scenario.
Arguably the most popular app to help find nearby eateries is Yelp, which does a great job of searching for restaurants and providing a list of user reviews. However, I’m often cautious about reviews of restaurants, unless I know the source of the review really well. Instead, I’m more more apt to trust a service that recommends something based on my personal tastes, which is exactly what Ness brings to the table.
Personalizing Your Taste Profile
The method Ness uses to suggest restaurants is not unlike Netflix. When you fire up the app for the first time, you’ll be prompted to build your taste profile by tapping the big Personalize button. Next, a list of local restaurants (based on your current location) will appear, prompting you to rate each one individually on a one through five star scale.
The restaurants you absolutely love should be marked with a five star rating, while the restaurants you absolutely can’t stomach should receive a one star rating. After rating ten restaurants, Ness will offer suggestions based on your choices. It’s worth noting that the more restaurants you rate, the better Ness will become at recommending places you’ll love to dine at.
Home Page Navigation
One of my favorite aspects of the app is its gorgeous interface and buttery smooth functionality. The home page features six different cuisine categories, including All Cuisines for those who like everything. Swiping the screen either left or right takes you to a new page featuring six new cuisine categories, which there is a total of 36 spread across six pages.
Finding a Restaurant
When you’ve found a cuisine type that peaks your interest, tap the corresponding panel and the screen will animate to a full image of the selected cuisine with a list of suggested restaurants. For each restaurant listed, Ness provides their category (e.g. pizza, sushi), an estimated price range you’ll spend and the distance.
If you’re not quite satisfied with the list of restaurants, you can alter your search options by tapping the Refine Your Search button in the search field. Doing so will populate a slew of filtering options, including mileage and price. The two most useful filtering options are the ability to hide places you’ve previously rated and big chain restaurants, which really gets to the heart of what Ness is about, finding great locally own restaurants.
If you’ve previously rated a restaurant, your score will appear in the top right corner of the restaurant’s listing; however, if you haven’t rated the restaurant, a percentage will appear with a heart symbol instead. This percentage indicates the level in which Ness believes you’ll love the restaurant.
Selecting a Restaurant
You’ve narrowed down your desired cuisine type and have discovered a restaurant that looks appealing. Tap the restaurant’s button and a secondary screen will animate in place. This screen offers a slew of useful information, including a suggested rating (if you have not rated the restaurant yet), a list of what’s good and bad about the restaurant (provided by other users) and the restaurant’s level of popularity (calculated by the number of mentions on a variety of services, including Facebook, Twitter and Foursquare).
If you’re sold on what you’ve read, you should tap on the More Information button near the top of the page. Doing this will provide a list of the restaurant’s address, phone number and website. If you need directions, tap the address and you’ll be prompted to search the address with the built in Maps app (it would be handy if other GPS apps such as Tom Tom or Navigon were included). Similarly, you can call the restaurant by simply tapping on the phone number.
Say you’re going to meet a friend at the restaurant and need to provide the address. Tapping the Share With a Friend button at the bottom of the page offers the ability to send the restaurant’s info via a text message for email (an extremely handy feature).
Social Network Integration
Ness offers two forms of social integration, the most prominent of which is Facebook. Logging in with your Facebook account is the only way of creating a Ness account, but it’s worth it considering the ease in which you can find friends and track which restaurants they’ve dined at and rated. This info can be viewed under your profile, which is accessed by tapping the People icon in the top left corner of the main search field.
You also have the option to sign-in with your Foursquare account, which is very useful if you’re the type of person that enjoys checking-in to their current location (something I started doing after I began using Ness). When you’re at the restaurant, simply pull up the restaurant’s info and a Check In button will be available at the top of the page. If you check-in using the Foursquare app instead of Ness, the info from the check-in will still be displayed in Ness (a really ingenious feature).
If you’re looking to find the biggest network of everyday restaurant reviewers, Ness is not the app you’re looking for. The service is still in its early stages, steadily building its following. In fact, one of my favorite things about the app is its need for user input. I’ve noticed a few local restaurants missing from their database, which Ness makes it a breeze to add.
Combine the beautiful interface, useful social network integration and its ability to offer restaurants based on your tastes, and Ness has the potential to become one of the most popular user services on the web. Add to the fact that Ness is planning on implementing recommendations for music, shopping, nightlife and entertainment, and Ness could very well be your one shop service to find user reviews for pretty much everything.
Ness not only helps you find local restaurants, it recommends them based on your tastes. Combine that with a gorgeous interface and a great use of social networking integration, and Ness is a sure fire winner.9