Huffpost Technology

Matchbook Offers An Instapaper For Restaurants

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This post is part of a new series from HuffPostTech, Socialized, that will profile a different social startup--from apps to services to websites--every day. Want to be featured on the site? Email us about your startup, which should have a social media component and be less than two years old, at socialized@huffingtonpost.com.

It's a Friday night and your grandparents are in town. The prospect of walking around midtown for an hour looking for a reasonably priced, senior-citizen friendly destination strikes dread into your heart.

With Matchbook, a new mobile app, you can ensure that situations like this never happen again. Matchbook lets you store the restaurants and bars you've been to, complete with your own notes, as well as to flag the places you'd like to try out.

What it is: Matchbook is a simple app that lets you store restaurants and bars on your phone, both old favorites and the hotspots you've been meaning to visit.

"We just started interviewing people, particularly women about what they were doing on their phone," said Matchbook founder Jason Schwartz. "They kept showing us this notepad on their phones with places they wanted to remember. They would email and text message themselves. We began to see this so many times, it was clearly a piece of behavior that exists. We said, 'Lets see if we can make it more useful.'"

The app takes its name from the matchbooks people take from restaurants as they leave.

How it works: The Matchbook app lets you look up places by searching by name, or clicking a "I'm walking by it" button. Using FourSquare's API, the app has access to an extensive places database. Users can also add places to their Matchbook online, using its bookmarklet feature.

Users can add personal notes and tags to each entry. Once in the Matchbook, places are organized by neighborhood, visible on a map, or searchable by tag. Tag searches will let you see not only your own tags, but the most tagged places in your location from other Matchbook users. That data is displayed anonymously.

"Our tags are more around vibe," said Schwartz. "People think about places in terms of, 'I need somewhere good for my parents, or a date, or a group, or friends from out of town. You can search for that - a place in the West Village that’s good for a group. We will show you your results, but also the collective wisdom of everybody else."

Though Matchbook takes advantage of the "social" and "local" elements inherent to so many apps today, it wears its social capabilities lightly.

"Just throwing in these social features is a big turnoff for the mass market," said Schwartz of features like friending and news feeds. "Particularly in this space of location, I think it’s a turnoff from the perspective of privacy. What we do have is anonymized social data."

When it comes to sharing, Matchbook offers a way to share that doesn't require "friending" anyone.

"You click share, you choose a person from your contact list--the strongest friend list that there is--and once you do that it creates a text message with the name, address and a link and a matchbook account created for the person."

Why you’d use it: Matchbook is another tool that lets you organize your life, in an area that needs it. Most people eat out, whether it be occasionally or every night. But instead of getting stranded in a food desert wondering where that great pizza place you once ate at is, you can begin to store good food experiences with notes that prod your memory, or to plan future meals at restaurants you want to check out.

"It's like Instapaper in a certain sense," Schwartz said. "You're reading Daily Candy and you're like, 'Oh, that's a really cool place, I want to remember that."

How to get it: Matchbook is available for iPhone, on the website or through the iTunes store, but will roll out a web app for Android in the next week. Native apps for Android and Blackberry are forthcoming.

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