Got a Question? Ask a Local on Your iPhone
You don't have to be in New York to give Manhattan tips.
Where can I get a good cappuccino in the neighborhood? What store has cellphone batteries around here? Forget Siri. Now you can ask locals directly through a new iPhone app called Localmind 2.0.
Local information is getting easier to find: Food on Yelp or directions on HopStop, for example. But it requires a lot of digging (just try scrolling through Yelp rants…er, reviews). And you still might not find your answer.
The original version of Localmind went a step beyond by allowing people to pose questions to others through the app. But questions went only to people who were at the same location, registered by "checking in" on the app. Now users can send questions to anyone who has volunteered to be an "expert," even if they aren't around at the time.
The company says that its software can track the kinds of questions people answer so that the app can build a base of knowledge on the places and topics the local experts know most about. It can also keep track of how helpful the experts' answers are to users.
"We've been methodically moving towards this feature for quite a while," Lenny Rachitsky, the company's CEOsaid in an email to us. "We've been working on the expertise and reputation [calculation] behind the scenes that route questions in real time to the most appropriate users."
We gave it a try, first answering a question about where to get good drinks near the TechNewsDaily office. (The Flatiron Lounge on West 19th has great cocktails.) And we tried repeatedly to ask for a pizza recommendation (the place by us is too expensive), but we kept getting error messages. The app just came out today, after all.
Why would people volunteer to be troubled with questions from strangers? "It's simple: people like helping other people. It makes them feel good," Rachitsky said. "We hear this time and time again. Give people a chance to help others and more often than not they'll take it."
The new Localmind is available only for iPhones now. The Android version hasn't yet been updated.