x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

App of the Week: Good things come with concise descriptions

Tiny Review offers smartphone users a quick glance of what other people think of nearby venues.

Shakespeare was right - "brevity is the soul of wit". Ironically, if he were alive today, some MTV executive would make him cut out that part of Hamlet to make it fit neatly between reruns of Jersey Shore.

For better or worse, many of our digital-age careers now rise and fall by how much and how well we cull through endless torrents of bits and bytes. It's no wonder, then, why we grind our teeth and fight the urge to say "get to the point" the instant we sense a colleague breathing deep to utter a menagerie of adjectives and dependent clauses that no longer compute.

Speed it up, it's almost 2012 if you haven't noticed - even the last five syllables in haiku poems are overkill.

It is in this context that mobile review apps like Yelp fall short, since most offer little more than a slightly more convenient way for users to get paralysed indefinitely by too much information.

"Where would you like to go for dinner?" someone might ask.

"Not sure," you might say. "But just give me an undisclosed amount of uninterrupted silence while I log onto my smartphone and squint and scroll around a few hundred blog posts from restaurant critics who may or may not consider themselves the William Faulkner of cosy bistros. Only when I'm completely disheartened and disoriented will we then just cross the street to KFC."

The app

Fortunately there's Tiny Review (free; iPhone) a GPS-enabled database of user-created content, where the content is just a picture of a place or thing with a three-line review placed on top.

Tiny Review gives you the ability to see the gist of what others think of nearby venues without bothering with all the details that could distract you from more important things - like oncoming traffic.

The details

Using the app requires you to first register through your Facebook account, but after that, the process is pretty simple. Once you turn on your smartphone's GPS function, Tiny Review will serve up the latest nearby entries, complete with each place's name and distance from you. If you see something you like, simply click on it for more info (like a Google map and a list of other users who "liked" that entry).

Tiny Review also offers a general map view with red pins denoting places of interest and the ability to "follow" users who post reviews that appeal to you.

Posting a review yourself is as simple as taking a photo and writing a six- or seven-word description, headline style. Of course, as a user, you can follow and be followed and configure the app to automatically post your contributions to Facebook.

I could go on, but you get the point. We're on the same page - and Tiny Review is right there with us.

Have some great personal finance apps that you want to share? Write to Curt Brandao at cbrandao@thenational.ae