Thursday, November 27, 2008

RSNA Survival Kit No. 2

I'll be asking a lot of my iPhone at RSNA this year. Besides the usual anti-boredom countermeasures, I'll be testing whether several new apps will make my brief visit to Chicago a bit easier.

Restaurant Apps

I'll be eating out most evenings in Chicago, so restaurant applications will be handy.

One of my favorite restaurant apps is Urbanspoon, which I mentioned previously in Dining Out for the Indecisive. It's worked pretty well for me here at home, but I'm looking forward to testing its away game while I'm in Chicago next week.

A test just now for cheap food in the Magnificent Mile area wants to send me to Heaven on Seven, a Cajun cuisine spot on N Wabash. I might just give that place a try.


Another restaurant app I've got my eye on is OpenTable, which will let me find and book open tables at restaurants all over the country. A quick query for a downtown Chicago steak quickly offered me the following 3 times at Morton's:


General search app:

One could just use the Safari browser on the iPhone for general searches. However, the Google Mobile App does a nice job of optimizing Big Google for the phone's smaller screen. Besides, the Google gnomes have just added a very cool new feature: Voice Search. This feature uses the iPhone's proximity sensor to trigger a voice search when you hold the phone up to your ear.

As a test, I said "Gino's East, Chicago" -- one of my favorite Chicago-style pizza places. The app toodled when it was through listening, and sent the following waveform off to Google central:


A few seconds later, that screen was replaced by this one, with just the place I was looking for on North Wells:


Now it's all very well to play with this stuff thousands of miles from Chicago, when there's nothing at stake. However, as Helmuth von Moltke put it:
No battle plan survives contact with the enemy.
I'll let you know how these apps hold up under battlefield conditions, when 30,000 famished radiologists simultaneously duke it out for dinner next week. Wish me luck.

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