If you’ve got time on your side, what search tool you use to find a particular business really comes down to user preference. Maybe you like the way Google organizes the results, maybe you prefer to use Yelp for searches in a specific category. You’ve got time, so use them all – it’s not a pressing matter.
However, if you find that you’re in an unfamiliar place and you very much want to find a restaurant that is open at that very moment – and let’s assume it’s a late-night moment – those search engines aren’t going to do you much good without requiring you to go investigating each individual search result and finding the hours of each individual business. Lord, you might even have to go old school and – gasp! – actually call the business to see if it’s open. In the time it could take you to finally come upon a restaurant that’s open, it could have already closed since you started your search. Bummer, right?
In those situations when time is of the utmost importance, you’re lucky to have services like WolframAlpha in your world. The premiere search engine that deals with direct computations of data has announced today that the site can now be used to search for businesses like restaurants, gas stations, and retail chains based on whether or not they are currently open. You don’t even have to be that specific; WolframAlpha is smart enough to figure it out for you.
In WolframAlpha’s unique style of producing consummate data for a query, the search results will give you other locations nearby along with how far away they are and each location’s hours via text and an easy line graph. As if that weren’t awesome enough, you can also plan ahead to search for businesses that will be open at specific times, such as in the example below.
Regardless of what other search engine you use for similar queries, you’d be hard pressed to find as time-relevant results like you will with WolframAlpha. If you even want to narrow down your search options because you’re in a pizza kind of mood, try searching something like “pizza restaurants near me” or “Where is the nearest open pizza restaurant?” and you’ll be face-first into some slices in no time.
Don’t abandon all other search tools just yet, though, as there are some limitations in this current dataset. For one, the data is still young so it won’t include information for every single place that’s around you; in fact, as of right now it only includes the hours for about a third of all the 2.4 million gas stations, restaurants, department stores, etc. that are currently in WolframAlpha’s dataset. Additionally, WolframAlpha hasn’t yet included independent businesses in the hours-of-operation dataset and all of the available search results are currently very United States-centric, but they say that they’ll be adding more locations and expanding to include international data to the dataset sometime in the near future.
This new dataset is still in the early stages but WolframAlpha assures us that they will keep us posted with updates as more information is added to the knowledge base. For now, though, sally forth and enjoy having newfound powers over the here and now.