Roamz, a startup which recently relaunched its mobile applications with a new focus on local search (as opposed to serendipitous discovery), is now bringing its local search engine to the web. Today, the company is debuting an online version of its service at Roamz.com, allowing users to view real-time content about nearby places and events, search for specific things, like coffee or shopping, and then drill down into each place to see more details and photos.
This is the same functionality as currently provided by Roamz’ mobile applications, available on Android and iPhone. You may remember that the company recently shifted away from its original idea of “serendipitous discovery” of local places and events when founder Jonathan Barouch realized that serendipity isn’t a use case. In a guest post for TechCrunch this July, he talked about how the company came to understand that “serendipity” alone was not enough of a motivation to open an app. The following month, Roamz relaunched with its new vision: instead of serendipity, it would now focus on directed, local search.
While users can still access various app features to enable serendipitous discovery of nearby activities, the app’s primary function is delivering local recommendations. As with the previous version, Roamz pulls its data from social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare and Instagram, but with the relaunch, it lets users query against that data more directly. For example, you could now type in “pizza” and a location, like a neighborhood within a larger city, or your own town. The results show you what people nearby you are saying about places that match your interests, and you can star your favorites for future reference.
Barouch declined to give numbers about app downloads since the relaunch, but says engagement is up following the addition of location-based alerts which tell users when they are near a trending event. For example, Roamz pinged anyone near Central Park when the pumpkin festival was seeing additional chatter on social media.
Online, the experience is nearly identical, save for the larger format. Although you can perform similar local searches on Foursquare.com (and Foursquare on mobile), the benefit of using Roamz is that you’re not just limited to Foursquare’s data. When testing the service to find frozen yogurt shops, for instance, I found photos and reviews from Foursquare, Facebook and Instagram filling my search results. These included interior shots of the stores, Instagram photos of the frozen treats, and even coupons and posts about store openings from Facebook.
To use the online service, head to Roamz.com, allow the browser to access your location and type in what you want to find. The website uses the seemingly ubiquitous Pinterest-inspired pinboard user interface for search results, but when you click into a place page to view more details, the layout becomes one of a more traditional photo gallery and update stream, which will update with new posts in real-time.