Yelp seems like it's been on the internet forever, but it still helps millions of people figure out where to eat. Now for the first time, the company is introducing a vertical home feed featuring images of dishes and more, designed to help people discover local restaurants.
The feed will first and foremost feature "popular dishes and other trending photos from consumers, including food photos or interior and exterior shots of the restaurants," Yelp said. Much like Google and other types of news feeds, the content shown is based on your proximity to the business, the freshness of content and a dish's popularity.
When you click on a restaurant's dish, you'll be directed to see more photos and reviews of that dish. Yelp uses machine learning to pick out those dishes based on reviews, then pairs them with photos and reviews of the dish. Clicking on other images, like the interior or exterior of a restaurant, will take you to the business page and show you more photos and info.
The other feature, Yelp Connect, is a paid feature for restaurant owners. It allows businesses to share updates with new and existing customers directly to home feed, helping their posts gain visibility (and Yelp more ad revenue, no doubt). Yelp said that it's initial testing showed it may lift a restaurant's consumer engagement up to 30 percent.
The new experience is arriving today on iOS exclusively in 150 cities in 25 US states, Yelp said. There's no word yet on an Android release, but the company said to "stay tuned for additional updates."