Poynt for iPhone review
What's the point of Poynt. It's an app that lets you search for restaurants, cinemas, gigs, and local businesses, as well as letting you know what the weather is (from Accuweather). There may be some tidy minded people who like the idea of having one app to perform all these searches in, rather than a collection of different apps that offer the same functionality.
There's also the fact that it integrates nicely with your iPhone's phone and address book. For example, when you have located the phone number of a restaurant you wish to make a booking at, simply hold the phone to your ear and it automatically dials. This works most of the time; it also dialled a few times when we didn't mean it to so beware of moving the phone about too much. It's certainly handy to be able to add an address of a local doctor, found by searching in the Businesses section, by tapping the address and selecting Create New Contact.
We also liked the fact that by tapping the circular icon top right of the app we could set up various locations for searching, so we weren't limited to searching the local area. From here you can search by Address, City, Zip, or Landmark. (Elsewhere in the app there are other options for searching within a particular area, but there is no option for searching by postcode here, which seems odd).
The default option is to search nearby. However, there is no option to choose the size of the area you are searching. You can expand on the first set of results you get back, but this only finds more restaurants in the same area, it doesn't expand the area. This means that when searching for a local restaurant, for example, the first set of results won't necessarily include all of the restaurants in the roads closest to you, which seems a bit illogical.
When you first open Poynt a screen showing icons for Business, Movies, Restaurants, and Events greets you. The US version also offers Important People (basically the phone book) and Gas (local petrol stations – we were able to find these just by searching in the Business section). You will also see the current weather, powered by Accuweather. Tap on the temperature for information about the upcoming weather for the next six days.
Starting with Restaurants, as mentioned above the local search is a bit illogical. It doesn't return all the restaurants closest to you in the first set of results you need to tap More. It appears that the local search is limited to about a mile. It would make more sense if, like the Right Move app, you could search within a quarter of a mile, and extend the search reach as required, or, as with the SquareMeal app, it could return results listed by distance.
One way to check distance from your location is to rotate the phone from portrait to landscape. This brings up a map powered by Google. Even more enticing is the 360* view, which is an augmented reality layer that overlays your search results with the local area viewed though the iPhone camera. It's a fun way to check you are walking in the correct direction. Hold the phone down and you see arrows pointing to various restaurants near you. We couldn't get the 360* option to come up every time we accessed the maps, it was as if having used it once we couldn't use it again. You won't always be able to use the 360* feature – if you aren't searching the local area you won't be able to see augmented reality results for the area you aren't in currently, which is logical.
The restaurant results the app returns are bought to you by various services including Thomson Local, Bing and Toptable. We already have the Toptable app and a similar search of the same area in the Toptable app bought us 19 results, where Poynt only bought back seven Toptable results and many more Thomson Local results. We advise users of the Poynt app to veer towards Toptable results as these are more likely to include reviews – restaurants pay to be included in Thomson Local, this doesn't necessarily mean they are any good. Recommendations is a feature that is really lacking from Poynt. While a small number of results include further information about restaurants, such as websites or reader reviews, very few of the results do include this information and you can't specifically search for recommended restaurants. We prefer searching for restaurants using apps like SquareMeal because we feel assured that we're choosing a good restaurant. We also like being able to search for special offers, which the SquareMeal and Toptable apps offer. What Poynt offers that SquareMeal don't is the option to search by Cuisine. You can search for various options from African, American, Asian, and Australian, to Thai, Turkish, Vegetarian and Vietnamese. We were disappointed that all this really served to do was prove that the search results are limited. For example there were apparently no Cafés near the office, which we know is not the case. Clearly the local cafes aren't listed in Thomson Local. We also hoped to find some good results in Breakfast & Brunch but every location we searched under didn't bring back any such results. Surprisingly there was nothing listed under Fast Food, despite being surrounded by McDonalds and KFC.
Once you locate a restaurant, tap the restaurant name for listings information. Depending on the information available you get a number of options including Call, Add to Calendar, Map, Directions (which takes you to Google so you can plot your route), Make Search Location, and Share (which links to Facebook, Twitter or Mail).
Having found a restaurant you may want to select your other entertainment for the evening. Here's where the Movies search function comes in. Once in the Movies section you get the following options: Theatres Nearby, Movies Nearby, Top 10, Genres and Search. We're being a bit pedantic here, but we really wish it referred to Cinemas here, since it doesn't actually include Theatres in the listings – theatres can be found in Events. (Ok, we realise it was designed by Americans...)
You may already have a dedicated cinema app on your phone already; perhaps you have the Cineworld app or the Vue app, depending on your local brand, so why would you want to use Poynt?
Poynt brings back results for all the cinemas in your area, including the independents, which is nice. Tap the cinema you wish to attend and you go through to a Theatre Listings page (read Cinema) with Today's Showtimes, and the option to pick another day of the week, up to six days in advance. Each film showing has its Rotten Tomatoes rating on display and the show times. You can tap a bell icon to add it to your calendar. Under all the listings are options to Call, Map, Directions, Make Search Location, Share and Favorite.
You can search for movies by Genre, here you'll find the usual suspects: Action, Comedy, Drama, and so on, as well as a few more unusual options, like Animation, Concert, Musical, and Western. We searched for Western and got no results, despite the fact that Cowboys and Aliens is on (that's listed as Suspence/Thriller). You can read reviews on the Overview page of each film, play trailers, view the film's website, view the Rotten Tomatoes website, and share on Facebook and so on.
Searching for Movies Nearby tells you about films you might not have thought of seeing that are at the independent cinemas. We like the fact that we wouldn't have discovered these without Poynt.
Events & Businesses
As we said, should you wish to find out what's on at your local Theatre, then you need the Events section of Poynt. This is also the section to find out about gigs and other forms of entertainment. Options include: Events Nearby, Events by Category, Venues Nearby, Search Events, Search Performers. As with restaurants, this is not a full listing. We were a bit disappointed that it didn't bring up the Fairfield Halls theatre in Croydon, for example.
You can also browse Events by Event Categories, which includes Concerts & tour dates, Conferences & Tradeshows, Education, Kida & Family, Festivals, ... Pets, Science, Sports, and so on). You can also look at venues to see what events are coming up. When we searched for Venues near a postcode in Croydon it gave us only results in central and north London, nothing in Croydon itself.
As with restaurants, it's odd that Events aren't listed according to distance from you (despite the distance being listed next to the event name), in fact the order seems somewhat muddled, they aren't even alphabetical or in chronological order. There is no logic to it. A Search Events option allows you to search for something specific and narrow it down by date – but this only works if you have a search term to search by.
Finally, Businesses is a bit like searching your Yellow Pages (or Thomson Local more accurately). You can find a local doctor or dentist. As usual, when you tap a result you get the options to call, map, directions, make search location and share. Tap the address and you can add it, and the phone number, to your contacts.
The idea behind Poynt is great, and for all its implementation flaws, and bugs, as a free app we can’t really complain about it's inaccuracies and limitations. We like the 360* feature but it’s a bit of a novelty really. The really useful features are being able to add details to your Address Book and call from within the app. Our favourite feature was being able to discover events and films showings at venues we wouldn’t have known about without using Poynt. We think there is a lot of potential in this app but expect that the added functionality we are looking for will come at a cost.