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Pizza may be the delivery food nonpareil these days, but there remains a certain charm in exploring an unfamiliar city and stumbling across unforgettable pizza parlors hidden on side streets known only to the natives. Pizza Compass wants to introduce you to these parlors, and it usually manages to do so. Under the right conditions, it's a fun little novelty app that delivers a few smiles and new culinary experiences for less than the usual price of a slice.
The basic premise is wonderfully simple and intuitive. Open the app and you'll find the direction to the nearest pizza parlor, which is marked by rotating slice of supreme pizza that points the way and steams more intensely as you approach the parlor's door. In the same glance, you'll also find the parlor's name, the distance to it in miles, and a star rating based on the data Pizza Compass pulls from Foursquare's API. At the bottom, a green or red line indicates whether the parlor's open or closed respectively. Alternatively, you can select the map option at the bottom of the screen and select a particular restaurant you'd like to head towards on an overlay using Apple Maps.
It's a great idea, if a little situational. As Pizza Compass only marks a parlor's location as the crow flies, it works best in close-knit college towns or in highly walkable urban settings like Chicago or San Francisco, where pizza parlors often number in the dozens within a square mile. It usually doesn't work in airport terminals (since Foursquare users tend to list sites by their addresses, not their actual geographical coordinates), and its usefulness for midnight munchie runs depends on whether a restaurant's Foursquare entry includes its hours of operation. In some cases, we've found, it'll list surrounding parlors as open even if you're strolling around at 3:00 a.m. Worse, a couple were out of business.
It's thus best to approach Pizza Compass in the same spirit of exploratory fun that you might bring to geocaching. Other apps such as Yelp! or even Google Maps do a much better job of showing you the specific directions to parlors, although with less personality and with time-consuming search specifics. If pizza's all you want, you'll find the joy of using Pizza Compass to find it ranks just under following your nose.
The bottom line. Pizza Compass delivers a fun new way to find pizza, although its uses are limited by location and accurate information.
iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad running iOS 6.0 or later
Simple, intuitive design. Key information about nearest parlor available at a glance. Map overlay allows you to customize target parlor.
Usage heavily dependent on accurate Foursquare information. Significantly inferior to Yelp outside of walkable urban centers.