Yelp adds personalized search results to its iPhone app


In the first part of the personalization setup, you’ll be prompted to choose some dietary, lifestyle and accessibility preferences. This isn’t the same as getting in deep and telling the app you love korean food or cocktail bars, though. It gives some high-level options to tell the app that you prefer gluten-free, kosher, vegetarian or vegan restaurants, for example. Yelp will then take these preferences into account across the service, highlighting restaurants that it knows have a good amount of vegan options, if that’s what you need.

“Lifestyle” lets you tell the app whether you’re a homeowner, auto owner, parent or pet owner — this would be used to highlight locations that are pet-friendly, if you want a restaurant that’ll let you bring your dog. Finally, accessibility encompasses places that are wheelchair-friendly as well as spots that offer gender-neutral restrooms.

After those preferences, Yelp asks you to select your favorites from a host of food and drink categories. The labeling is a little odd; you pick from “cuisine” (Chinese, American, Mexican, etc.), “food” (BBQ, burgers, pizza) and “snacks and drinks” (coffee, bakeries, donuts, ice cream). After filling out your food preferences, you do the same for a “things to do” section, which encompasses nightlife, activities (like arcades, beaches and hiking) and shopping and culture. Finally, the “lifestyle” section includes things like hair salons, spas, antiques, home decor and a few others.

It’s a lot of things to consider, and some of the sub-categories seem a little unnecessary. Yelp says these lists will keep being updated and tweaked over time, so we’ll see what the categories look like a year from now. The good news is that it’s a simple process to swipe down the grid of icons and tap the ones you’re interested in. Once that’s done, you’ll see those preferences reflected across your Yelp experience.

On the home screen, Yelp’s “nearby and open now” area highlighted Thai, Middle Eastern and Mexican restaurants, all categories I checked off when setting up my profile. Search results for restaurants also highlighted my preferences. For example, one of the top restaurants in the search results had a tag noting it was the most-visited Italian spot in the neighborhood, with Yelp’s new personalization heart reflecting that this was a category I’m interested in.


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