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Summary:

Many moons ago, we offered a video look at Earthcomber’s iPhone-specific web site. The service has been around since 2005 and supports many device platforms, but up to now hasn’t been a native application on the iPhone. I say “up to now” because you can grab […]

earthcomber-iphoneMany moons ago, we offered a video look at Earthcomber’s iPhone-specific web site. The service has been around since 2005 and supports many device platforms, but up to now hasn’t been a native application on the iPhone. I say “up to now” because you can grab Earthcomber for free in the iTunes App Store. It still offers the great features that I showed off last year, but like most mobile-formatted websites that have morphed into standalone apps, it’s a much cleaner and easier to use. Don’t just take my word for it though; even though it’s free in the App Store, you can get a web-based simulation right on the Earthcomber website.

I still like the category listing to navigate through various venues in the area. It’s a wide range, from Bars & Clubs to tours of cultural attractions and everything in between. Based on your location, every venue is available on a map so you can get visual directions with a tap, or you can view locations in a list, complete with the distance from where you are. While you can always get by with local searches in standard search engines, Earthcomber can be better personalized by signing up for a free account. The “My Radar” function acts like a social search, showing you friends and favorite locations in the area. Overall, it’s handy and free. I’ve got it installed on my iPhone and I’m sure Tyler and I will be using it to find things to do on our Phoenix trip this weekend.

  1. I’ve been using this app ever since it was just a web app, and downloaded this immediately. I have been comparing it to Around Me. I love the way that Earthcomber lets me view maps without throwing me out of the application and into the maps application.

    But I’ve found a couple of things which annoy me about this app. After I have set my current address and go to Banks for example, I get 20 listings for Bank of America. Problem is there are about 4 banks which are closer. In order for Earthcomber to locate the closer banks, I have to search for the actual bank I am looking for by name. On Around Me, when I search for Banks, the list I get is accurate based upon location – nearest to farthest away. Same thing for pizza places – Earthcomber does not show one that is up the block, while Around Me lists them accurately.

    It’s pretty strange. I like all the search possibilities of Earthcomber, but if it is not giving me truthful results, I don’t know how long I can stick with it.

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  2. Thanks for the heads up. I think Eartcomber’s a great mobile app, have done for ages.
    Very glad to see an iPhone native version!

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  3. can i use it on a refurbished iphone i bought one off of http://www.tycromedia.com and would like to know

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  4. It does seem a lot like “AroundMe” (http://www.tweakersoft.com/mobile/aroundme.html). As Lee points out, a lot depends on the quality of the answers. I will see if I can interest my daughter in doing a comparison.

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  5. First let me thank you all for using Earthcomber, and even more, for being free with the feedback. That’s how you improve, right?

    On your points:
    – We run all results through a scoring system that gives the biggest priority to what is nearest to you. Next is the quality of the listing, which is also big, for this reason: We figure you’re standing some place trying to make a decision. Address, phone & no details aren’t very helpful. Descriptions and ratings help. Those “no details” places are the listings that most info services, including us, have as “better than nothing”. Makes sense for bars & restaurants. The scenario Lee points out, though, is something we have to tweak: unless banks start giving you hot towelettes, probably not much to review. So, no elaboration needed. Distance and Name are the keys. BTW: listings that don’t have quality score (i.e., no details) will start below those that do,in proximity order.

    – Patrickj, Thank you! It was a big project ‘cuz a lot goes on in the background, but nice to be on Apple. Too bad they never listed us as “new” but stuck with the three-week-old submission date. Whaddyagonnado?

    – Ken, you absolutely can use Earthcomber on any phone that gets web. You have to set your own location (for now) on that, but we make that pretty easy. Then, the same lists perform the same way as the iPhone app. And of course, you have to refresh your position. But any kind of iPhone, refurb or new, can use the App if you have the 2.2 system upgrade.

    – Mickey, the big difference between Earthcomber and anyone else is that you can see the whole array of your interests, in one action, around you. That’s our patent. Others, you have to hit one particular item at a time. And we are shortly coming out with a fix that sorts the whole list by proximity, instead of alpha. That’s the way we had it on Palm and Windows, and it got under our radar when we creating the My Radar. Ironic, ain’t it?

    – everybody, I have a question I’m dying to know: does it come across that you can *tune* this thing? That you can delete all the stuff you don’t ever want, add more that you do, rename lists to create cruising modes, like, “Day Off” or “Julie’s Faves” and then set a mix of things that don’t have to be from any related categories? Just curious what has dawned on people to do…or if we get the message through. THANKS!

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  6. Jim:

    Thanks for responding. I have been a big proponent of Earthcomber and it remains one of the only 5 star ratings I ever gave in the app store (ljmjag). I actually had only a vague idea that you can tune it. I really like how it is “layered”. I can search not just restaurants but types of food, etc.

    I do think that there should be a basic sort based upon distance – in any category. There are times that it may be important to know what’s closest – instead of what has been highly rated. Just as there are times when I want to know quality, even if it is a little farther. I’ve been known to travel great distances looking for the perfect slice, the perfect pastrami, etc.

    And you have to tweak those Bank listings – until your post here, my thought was that people were paying for sponsored listings, which were skewing the results – and making me wary of the app. I’m glad that it is not sponsored listings, just some internal voodoo going on.

    Interestingly, when I run the ATM search, the ATM’s closest in distance do come up. So that search is apparently working.

    I think that given the level of depth that your app covers, with a couple of tweaks there is no reason why this shouldn’t be on everyone’s phone.

    Good luck!

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