Looking for a [thumbs up emoji] place for some burgers and beer? Yelp has you covered.
The customer review site now allows mobile users to search for local restaurants and businesses using emojis instead of keywords. The app takes any symbol on the emoji keyboard entered in the search box – whether it's a happy face or an image of an eggplant -- and returns with Yelp's interpretation of the closest relevant businesses.
Yelp's emoji search works well with food-based searches – enter the spaghetti emoji and Yelp will provide you with an array of Italian restaurants nearby, as demonstrated in the screenshot below. Other emojis that clearly represent objects also produce good results: the eyeglasses emoji leads to recommendations of eyewear stores and optometrists, the diamond ring emoji showcases jewelry stores and the Statue of Liberty emoji presents the landmark.
Emojis can also be used for multiple keyword searches. If you're fluent in emoji and looking for somewhere you can dance and get drinks, you can type in the fancy salsa dancer emoji and the beer emoji for cocktail bars and pub recommendations. If you want dinner as well, add a burger or spaghetti emoji to the search.
Yelp results for emoji searches Image credit: Kate Taylor
Since Yelp seems to have categorized emojis by matching each symbol with a keyword, more abstract concepts tend to yield less promising results. For example, the top three result for the winking face with its mouth puckered into a kiss are a stationery store, a coffee shop and a lingerie shop. However, Yelp has taken the time to define a few nonfigurative symbols, with the flying cash emoji resulting in expensive restaurants (those Yelp labels as '$$$$').
Even for the laziest Yelp-users, scrolling through the emoji keyboard will likely take as much time as typing in a keyword such as "hotel" or "pizza." Non-English speakers and true emoji-addicts may continue to use the function. For most, however, the fun begins and ends with seeing what Yelp will recommend when presented with bizarre emoji keywords such as dancing twins and smiling poop.