A full five percent of reviews site Yelp's traffic comes from its downloadable iPhone app, the company said Thursday. In response, it's revamping the iPhone app, originally launched last year, to add new features that place a fresh emphasis on location awareness. The new download will be available in the iTunes App Store in a few days.
The most significant upgrades are the ability to post 140-character (read: Twitter-length) "quick tips" from the iPhone, a wholly new feature, which other members can give a Digg-like thumbs-up to. Popular ones may eventually be displayed on that business' review page on Yelp. Also new is a "Nearby" feed of what's accessible and recommended around you, as well as from your friends on the service. Yelp's original iPhone app had been juiced up with location awareness, but was light on the features--you could find out what was nearby and see what reviews had to say about it, but little else.
One more new feature: you can't publish full Yelp reviews from the revamped iPhone app but can draft them there and publish from its PC interface later.
The new app from Yelp comes just days after News Corp.'s MySpace announced a potentially strong rival to Yelp. Called MySpace Local, it's in partnership with the IAC-owned Citysearch--which is still the biggest name in business reviews. While MySpace Local doesn't have a mobile strategy in place, yet, it's on the road map.
And it's probably just a coincidence, but the new Yelp app's Twitter-like "tips" are a diversion from the five star scale of reviews that made Yelp famous, and which recently have been coming under scrutiny by some businesses who claim they get gamed in order to draw in new advertisers.