Yelp Brings Scrumptious Photos To The iPad

Yelp, which has one of the most popular apps on the iPhone, today is finally available on the iPad (iTunes link). The iPad version is built for browsing, with a double-pane experience—lists and search results on the left, profiles, maps, and photos on the right. As you scroll down each listing, the larger window on the right fills with a more detailed drill-down. But what is really different about the iPad version is how it handles photos.

For every local search, you can view results as a list, on a map, or as a grid of photos. The photo view is especially helpful for restaurant searches, allowing you to pick a place to eat based on how good the food looks. Even in list-mode, when you click on a photo in a profile, it expands to take up the whole righthand window. Photos are uploaded by both Yelp users and the businesses themselves.

It is less likely you will take your iPad with you into a restaurant, or while you are shopping, than your iPhone. So the iPad app is designed more with couch browsing in mind for those “Where should we go out tonight?” moments before you actually leave the house. The two-paned approach lets you quickly sift through local search results and get the basic facts, location and photos for each place you are considering. Places can be bookmarked to revisit later.

You can also write reviews in the iPad app, something which is not allowed in the iPhone version (instead, you are encouraged to leave quick tips, check in, and upload photos). There are now 15 million reviews on Yelp, with 6 million added this year alone. Yelp encourages long, thoughtful prose over quick, bursty, shoot-from-the-hip reviews (which I think is a mistake, but that is for another post). Reviews can be share don Twitter or Facebook.

Yelp has 2.8 million active mobile users every month (versus 39 million on the Web). While they are still a small percentage overall, they account for about one third of all Yelp searches across various mobile platforms, including Android and Blackberry. Remember what Steve Jobs said about search versus apps: “When people want to find a place to go out to dinner, they are not searching. They are going into Yelp.” Now that the iPad app is going to be added to the mix, we’ll see if that holds true in the home