Vibe Guides Bring Local Reviews to Mobile

By Steve Smith

Magazine brands have been looking for ways to hook themselves into mobile utility as well as local markets. Vibe magazine hits both targets in one app with its Vibe Guides for iPhone. The free downloadable tool brings editorially driven reviews of music and nightlife spots, restaurants and health and beauty providers to its young urban audience for 60 cities.

The app uses the iPhone’s GPS to locate you and can deliver detailed listings of nearby resources. Each listing has a direct-dial phone link, a paragraph of review and a list of features and a map link. Vibe has some “Vibe Picks” listings that the editors favor. There are also special deals called “AccessPerks” available for select venues through Vibe’s technology partner Access Network.

The actual results are haphazard. The listings definitely favor larger urban areas. Our searches around northern Delaware kicked over to Philadelphia locations. Whenever we tried to find AccessPerks, most seemed to be in the New York City area. When you do hit an area with dense listings, however, the reviews are informative and pithy. They bring a human and polished touch to a local mobile genre that is overloaded with wildly uneven, if more comprehensive user-generated content. The app does let you connect to foursquare and “check-in” at a location for your network to see.

The branding tie-in to Vibe is fairly well integrated. The “V” logo appears both in the listings as well as on the pushpin locators on the maps. When the user loads the app, recent covers from the magazine appear, although tapping on them produces no content. Altogether, Vibe has put its name on a local directory that is nice to have when it hits an area its reviews cover well. But users probably shouldn’t expect a comprehensive local directory.