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App of the Week – Verizon Visual 411

In the world of local search and maps, there is a lot to be said for simplicity. For instance, what would be the point of a web-based search solution if we could get there faster by using Yellow Pages or dialing 411. It’s this honorable quest for simplicity that appears to have driven the development of the Visual 411 app, which has recently been released for the iPhone and Android smartphones by Verizon Information Technologies.

The goal of Visual 411 is to deliver information on local businesses as quickly and as painlessly as possible. The home page includes 9 of the most frequently searched categories. These categories include the usual candidates such as restaurants and coffee shops, but also the “emergency” categories like hospitals and florists. If the category you are looking for isn’t there (ATM, dry cleaner), then you can type a keyword into a search box instead.

Results are presented as a listing of business names and addresses. Sponsored names, if any, are listed first, followed by the business nearest to your current location, the next nearest, and so on. If you don’t want to activate tracking to determine your location, then you can input your zip code instead.

Once your listing appears, you can sort by distance, relevance to your keyword selection, and also filter for businesses offering deals or special offers. The deals part of this app is obviously the key to its future success and it’s easy to imagine bar codes, QR codes and other features being added at a later date.

Once you pull up a business, you get a phone number, a Google Map reference, and the inevitable share button. You also get detailed directions and the opportunity for turn-by-turn voice navigation using Maps or VZ Navigator. You can add the business listing to Favorites and the app keeps track of all your recent search queries, so you don’t have to look for the same business twice.

I gave Visual 411 an extensive workout on an LG Lucid using both 3G and 4G networks. It found all my local businesses easily and efficiently, and even found a few that I didn’t know existed. Obviously 4G made a huge difference to the speed of response, particularly when I drilled down and linked to Maps and navigation.

If you want to cut through the clutter of sponsored search but still want to take advantage of deals and special offers, then give Visual 411 a try. It’s truly Yellow Pages for the digital age!

Seller: Verizon Information Technologies

Compatibility: iPhone, iPod touch (iOS 5 or later); Android (2.1 and later)

App Category: Utilities

Price: Free

The Online Mom Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

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