If I’ve talked to you since I started working at Pelago last month, chances are that I’ve told you to go join Whrrl. Apart from not having an “i” in its name, Whrrl has many traits, which usually get condensed into the one-liner description of “location-based social network”. Unsurprisingly, that isn’t immediately interesting to most people, given the number of existing options, so I thought I’d use this space to showcase some of what makes Whrrl so unique and powerful.
Millions of places, and they’re all on a map
Google Maps was a revolution in 2005 because it took the useful-but-boring maps we were accustomed to on the web and made them fully interactive, allowing you to pan and zoom the map by simply moving your mouse. Whrrl takes that a huge step further, by putting every public place in America on the map itself. Instead of having to search for a particular place that you’ve already heard of, you can easily discover new places around you.
The map is yours
Of course, with all of those places to visit, you need a way of knowing which ones are interesting. Rather than showing you the general-purpose ratings and reviews you’ll find at Citysearch or Yelp, Whrrl tailors your map to the opinions of your friends, allowing you to make decisions based on the opinions of those you trust. The places on your map will be green if your friends have rated them highly, or red if they generally dislike a place. If you’re new to Whrrl, your map will be prepopulated with the opinions of Top Whrrlers, who are the most active users in your city. What’s more, if your friends choose to share their location with you, they’ll also show up on the map whenever they’re checked into a place.
Helping you discover new places and events
Apart from simply clicking on any one of those places, if you’re looking for something in particular, you can do really deep searches depending on your current mood and preferences. I’ve found that Whrrl’s location search is more powerful than any other site I’ve used before, and it’s in part because Pelago has a data team that’s on a mission to actually call every restaurant in America for accurate and relevant information. For example, it’s 1am in Seattle as I write this, and Whrrl can tell me about 300 places nearby that will still be open in an hour.
It’s at your fingertips
Not only is Whrrl on the web, it’s also accessible from every mobile phone via SMS, so you can discover places on the go. If that’s not enough, you can download full-featured Whrrl clients to many phones, including iPhone and Blackberry devices.
Note: If it isn’t already obvious, even though I work for Pelago, there is no transitive relationship between this blog and the company. Read my full disclaimer here.