Poynt for iPhone is a mixed bag


has come to the iPhone, after having been a very popular free app on BlackBerry phones. Poynt provides local searches of individuals and businesses. It also shares a database with Open Table, so you can use it to make reservations at restaurants. Unlike the BlackBerry app, it has augmented reality, but is missing some features beloved by the Blackberry crowd.

Like some of the other iPhone search apps, you can enter the name of a business, and get a phone number, links to a website (if there is one), a mapped location, or directions. If you use the theater search, you'll find nearby movie houses. You can also search by movie genres, or get a list of the top 10 box office films. You can't buy tickets, but you can stream trailers. (Note: The developer says you can buy tickets if a ticket icon appears next to the distance marker. I didn't see any offering from my local theater when I checked the app.)

When you search for restaurants, you get similar results to those of the business search. Results include phone numbers, restaurant websites, maps, and directions. You can also narrow your search by cuisine, or by distance.

For any business, you can save the information to your contact list, which is a nice feature.

If you turn your phone to landscape mode, you get either a map, or you can select the augmented reality view. I don't think that view adds much to the program. You can see a business name floating on the screen, and click for information. There is a little floating label with the name of the business, and the distance in small print. Good luck reading it in bright sunlight. Basically, it's a yawner.

What's most frustrating about this app is the inconsistency of the way information is presented. When you search for restaurants, you are presented with a nice list that lets you choose the type of cuisine, but when you are searching for businesses there is no list of categories. You have to type a name of the place you are looking for, or manually type something like supermarket. It's not exactly a time-saver, and that's just what you want from an app like this. It needs to be quick and easy.

Now for the omissions. The BlackBerry version gives you an up to date gas price directory based on your location. The iPhone version? Zip. The developers say it will be in a future update.

At the end of the day, Poynt has promise, the price is right, and it is somewhat useful. It doesn't break any ground over other similar apps like Around Me or Where To?, which are better organized and easier to use. We'll keep an eye on Poynt and see how it evolves, but at this 'Poynt', even for free, it's not going to become your favorite app.

Poynt runs on the iPhone or iPod touch, and requires Phone OS 3.1.2 or greater.