PlaceBox: Don’t Call it FourSquare

Price: $0.99

PlaceBox: iPhone App Video Review

PlaceBox for iPhone

PlaceBox for iPhone

When it comes down to it, we’re absolute suckers for any app that delivers us new experiences, restaurants, or locations, and then rewards us for getting out of the house.  With our proclivities in mind, we were stoked to hear about PlaceBox, an app that delivers Google-powered data about nearby points of interest, and allows us to create our own notes about our experiences. Sadly, the app wasn’t all we were hoping it might be, but at the same time, we still had a blast with it. For our full thoughts on this geo-tagged social networking application, check below beyond the break!

Concept and Functionality

If you have ever used an application like Gowalla or FourSquare, then you have a rough approximation of how PlaceBox works. The app serves as a pseudo-Yelp replacement, delivering detailed information about points of interest directly in your area. The user can access this information via a list of pre-built categories, each of which sports a unique twist. For example, there’s the obligatory restaurant search, as well as a few more detailed queries: Cafes, nightlife, even steak if you wanted. The user is free to add specifications as they so desire, allowing for a lot of customization. Once a place has been picked, it can be saved as a favored place of interest, or check-in to. Your check-ins, though, unlike FourSquare can be annotated with personal notes, photos, or other information. And, of course, each location can be pinged directly from your iPhone’s dialer, should you wish to make a reservation.

All in all, the app is smoothly functional, though we did have a hard time biting into the PlaceBox bullet. The app combines several aspects of FourSquare and Yelp into one package, but not so uniquely that we absolutely need it. In fact, we found ourselves noting the subtle ways in which FourSquare was more refined, and wondering what incentive we had to use PlaceBox instead.

Design and Graphics

PlaceBox for iPhone

PlaceBox for iPhone

In fact, one of the most notable ways in which we perceived differences was in the app’s graphical appeal. PlaceBox is by no means ugly, but it lacks a certain amount of refinement that might come in future releases. Sure, we can still alert friends to our check-ins via Facebook and Twitter, but when the interface simply doesn’t excite us, we feel no inclination to do so. That being said, we really did appreciate the notes feature, which allows us a more personable social networking experience.

Overall Value

All in all, as PlaceBox costs a solid dollar in the App Store, we find the app quite a hard sell. It offers the same level of functionality as an app like FourSquare, but with a less-solid interface, a higher cost, and less name recognition. Perhaps with future updates—and a more unique direction—we’ll be able to tell our friends it’s a must-have app, but for now, it’s more of a novelty.

PlaceBox for iPhonePlaceBox requires iOS 4.3 or later and is compatible with iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch. A small expedite fee was paid by the developer to speed up the publication of this review.

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