It’s finally Friday, and you’re ready to plan a relaxing evening with friends. First you’d like to go to a small dimly lit bar, and then a restaurant—preferably one with seviche. Afterward you want to take in a movie (better get tickets now), and then it’s off to another few bars and maybe a karaoke joint. Everything should be within walking distance, and by the end of the night it wouldn’t hurt to know where to get a decent falafel. Oh, and you’d better pick up dog food on the way home.
Thank God for the Internet. Once, planning such an evening required prior knowledge of the area, maybe even a phone book. Now all you have to do is ask Google, Microsoft, Yahoo!—or IAC. Its AskCity local search (city.ask.com), which debuted last December, is perhaps the best tool for planning an evening of such intricacy. The service integrates data from existing IAC brands like Citysearch and Ticketmaster to deliver an impressive richness of information, all contained within a single easy-to-navigate interface. “In our research we found that people tend to search for data first and then use the map after that,” says Ryan Massie, director of product management. AskCity thus gives more space to search results—where you can read reviews, search related terms, and click to make reservations or buy tickets—but the maps themselves are pretty neat too. Particularly impressive is the ability to draw a shape on a map and then search for keywords inside. Who knew there was so much seviche within a one-mile radius of the office?