It's hard to believe, but before today, Yelp users couldn't leave their notorious reviews of local businesses on the site via the mobile app. For now, only iOS users will be able to write reviews on the fly, but Yelp says support for Android is coming soon.
Mobile phone usage has come a long way since the days of the hunt-and-peck, shorthand “C U L8R” texts. Nowadays, people are more mobile savvy and are becoming used to contributing long-form content directly from their device.
Though Yelp users have long had the option to leave tweet-length Tips--short notes similar to the popular tips Foursquare users can leave for other users--they've also been requesting the ability to publish reviews from their phones for years.
In 2009, Yelp's VP of consumer and mobile products Eric Singley wrote a blog post explaining why Yelp's mobile app didn't support full reviews at the time:
But why not full reviews? Well imagine what it would be like if reviews were done in SMS shorthand: "OK so, IANAE, but AFAIC this place has THE best Cfood. It was gr8! ADBB"
This made sense at the time, as Yelp's reviews are generally much longer and more in-depth than, say, a Foursquare tip. (The thoroughness with which many Yelp users write their reviews has been parodied on numerous occasions.)
Yelp won't be getting rid of Tips--it says they're still useful for those short, one-off observations you make about a place you visit (e.g., "Great jukebox!"). But, at least initially, Yelp will be able to relabel anything you write on your phone it deems too short as a Tip, rather than a full-fledged Review.
Yelp, which boasts 42.5 million user-generated reviews, sees higher click-through rates on mobile ads than on desktops. This new feature could help Yelp drive greater mobile revenue.
[Image: Flickr user sanmateoplumber]