Okay, so I finally had the chance to try out the new AskCity, the new local search for ask.com. At first glance, I do like the interface and the concept is definitely there (as Google has done something very similar). Testing is still underway as I am trying to do this on multiple platforms and processors, but my initial opinion is that there is a lot of work still to be done. The load times were slower than I experienced with Google Maps and MS Virtual Earth and for certain areas, I see tiles of information missing. I can’t yet figure it out whether it is due to the server preloading data or something else. Another problem that I noticed is there is no noticeable API for developers to utilize this outside of ask.com.
If I get a chance tomorrow, I will post the full review.
UPDATE : While I never did get a chance to post the full review, I have had a better experience with AskCity. While there is a general lack of developer support, which is what I like to see, there are some good pluses for the local search. While local search is starting to become more popular with users, AskCity strives to fill that gap. It’s geared around branded listings in a locality, which means, if no one knows who you are and what you do, this search probably won’t help. For instance, if I searched Microsoft in Washington, I would get all the locations they have for that company, whereas if I typed in software in Washington, it would be harder to find Microsoft even though they have a dominant market share in the area.
I did like that they offered a rating system, which does help bring it more towards the web 2.0 arena of user-generated content, but the ratings are created by citysearch.com and it looks to be entirely up to the publishers of that site rather than the users who give the ratings.
I did find it easy to make changes to listings on their map. Their customer service was more than happy to make adjustments to incorrect data. I am still unsure about the turn-around time for changes as I haven’t tracked that.
It would be better if they allowed a business category directory so that finding businesses was easier, but like I said in the title, this is still very much a beta. So, we’ll see.