If you own an iPad or iPhone and haven’t heard of Yelp, my guess is you’re either on your way home from the Apple Store with it still in the box or you’re just not that into apps.  Yelp is not only one of the first native iPad apps, but the premiere iPad utility app for finding restaurants and other businesses based on user reviews.  Yelp does an outstanding job of helping you make informed decisions on where to shop and eat.  The reviews are by real people with real experiences. If you are new to Yelp, read on for a full review and tips on how to use Yelp on your iPhone and iPad.

Upon launch, Yelp will ask you to create an account.  Though this is not necessary, and you can easily just tap Search Now to continue, it does come with some added benefits such as being able to bookmark and review businesses and restaurants.

Finding a Business or Restaurant
There is a couple of ways to find the place you’re looking for.  First, Yelp will find your location and pull up some default places around you.  Second, you can search for by category or specific business names such as Pizza, or Pizza Hut.  In addition to these search options, you can further refine your search by adding a filter. This allows you to further drill into your search by limiting, distance, rating, open businesses, neighborhoods, new, and businesses offering deals.

Reviews and Bookmarks
The best part of Yelp has to be the reviews.  Because these reviews are written by real people rather than critics or professionals, they are more trustworthy and give a better idea of a restaurant. This of course is only the case if there are a good number of reviews as one review from someone with a less than perfect experience doesn’t quite give a holistic picture.  If you find a business or restaurant that you love, think about giving it a review.  Also, think about bookmarking it.

Looking at a Specific Business or Restaurant
Once you find something that seems to fit your need, simply click on it.  This will bring an entirely new page with some great features.  These features include getting directions, writing reviews, adding bookmarks, or sharing the business with others through an automatically generated email.  There are also some pieces of more detailed information about the business you are checking out as well as reviews.

No, this is not the same monocle worn by the Monopoly guy.  Rather it’s an augmented reality feature.  Using the iPhone or iPad’s camera, the device will show businesses in the direction you’re device is pointing, overlaid with what the camera can see.  While this is a cool idea, I have not found it particularly useful.  From this screen the businesses are click-able and will take you to the same screen we talked about in the last section.

There is no denying that Yelp is great for those moments when you’re looking for something to do, somewhere to eat, or need a place that sells that specialty item you’re looking for.  Seeing as it’s a free app, there’s not much reason to suggest not downloading this one.  It’s only around 15mb small so even the lowest of space holding iPads or iPhones won’t notice it. I highly recommend this app.

Yelp is available as a free download available in the App Store.