Editor’s Note: This piece is part of a weekly series that will appear every Monday in which MainStreet spotlights one new smartphone app that can help readers manage their money, shop better or improve their job search. Check back each week to find out how to make your smartphone even smarter!
NEW YORK (MainStreet) — There’s certainly no shortage of online reviews for restaurants, hotels, music and pretty much anything else shoppers might want, but oftentimes we aren’t looking for reviews so much as a firm recommendation for what to do next. When that’s the case, having too many reviews can actually make it harder to decide. That’s where Stamped comes in.
Stamped, a free app released last week for the iPhone, gives the traditional review site more of a Twitter makeover and lets users choose the friends and professionals whose reviews they’d like to follow. Each user gets to put their stamp of approval on only 100 things – including restaurants, books, movies, apps and more – though one can earn more stamps if the reviews posted are liked by enough users.
To be clear, this is not a review service for people looking to unleash their scathing criticisms about a particular business. There are plenty of other websites one can use to voice their complaints. On Stamped, every user is prompted to include a brief explanation for why it’s “stampworthy,” which effectively serves as the ultimate filter by only showing you what people love.
By placing limits on the number of stamps one can have, the app ensures that users will be more mindful of selecting only their absolute favorite places and products. Likewise, by allowing users to pick and choose who they want to follow rather than making everything public to everyone, Stamped makes it easier for people to discover recommendations from those whose opinions are most important them. In this sense, Stamped functions like word of mouth for the digital age.
While the app can be useful for finding books and movies, it really excels when searching for restaurants and other venues to visit, since it maps out every business that has been recommended by people you follow so you can quickly pinpoint the best options nearby. Users can also map out businesses they’ve stamped (which can be helpful if you want to locate that fantastic hole-in-the-wall restaurant you only visited once) and even compile a to-do list of places to visit and see a map of those.
Since the app is brand new, many of the people you might want to follow aren’t on it yet. However, the app’s creators were clever enough to get a few high profile people to post reviews early on to get things going, including celebrity chef Mario Batali and Rolling Stone’s movie reviewer Peter Travers.