Raved recently launched on Android in an attempt to translate your friends' Facebook likes into a tangible, unified business discovery app. It's a particularly handy, free way to see if there are any places in town that more than one friend personally endorse, even if they weren't explicitly suggesting anything to you.
Raved has a visually appealing mosaic style, which showcases the different businesses promoted through your online social sphere in boxes of varying widths. Tapping on them sends users into a more traditional user interface with navigation tabs. Along the top bar is a toggle to switch between businesses suggested by friends and those that you’ve promoted, punctuated by a really cool card-flip animation.
There’s no home screen widget, which might have been nice for improved casual discovery, especially when you’re on the move in an unfamiliar part of town.
Raved really shines when it’s used for casual perusal for friend recommendations. It’s particularly helpful when more than one recommend the same place, which sends a strong signal that you should probably check it out too. In addition to leaving comments, err, Raves on a business, users can bookmark ones for future reference.
Location data is pulled in from Foursquare, which provides phone numbers within the app (complete with tap-to-call). Every business also has a news tab with their latest Facebook updates, maps with a directions shortcut, and another tab for your interactions from friends. There’s a section for coupons too, but don’t expect much action there.
I wasn’t altogether pleased with looking up specific businesses. Even after eliminating the multitude of filters and categories from a search, I wasn’t able to find my regular gym, despite me and my friends liking it on Facebook. Both the Facebook and Foursquare page have all of the information that Raved should need in order to create a profile, so it’s hard to say what the issue is. Even typing in “gym” in the search field only brought up a single actual gym as a result within 30 miles - the others were a sportswear store and a kid’s arcade. That said, I don’t think I could rely on Raved to find anything very specific or important, but it could be a nice casual first step in researching places to do business.
- Original idea
- Good use of existing social networks
- Not great for specific searches
The bottom line
The thing that I really like about Raved is that it’s not trying to build up a social network of its own; getting the snowball rolling on stuff like that is hard, especially when Facebook and Twitter are already around to handle most of our needs. Repurposing the overwhelming amount of data already available on these networks is hugely helpful, however.
While I wouldn’t use Raved as any kind of replacement for a Google search, it’s a great way to discover new places you didn’t even know you were looking for, or that your friends really knew that they were recommending. It could still use a few things like a review and rating system, and maybe plug into other business databases such as Yelp, Raved shows promise.