(Photo : Zagat.com)
After revamping its Maps app and web offerings, Google has rebooted Zagat, releasing a new app for Android and iPhone, along with a new, and free, Zagat.com website.
The relaunch, clearly aimed at taking more of Yelp's success while also integrating more of its content and style with Google, was announced on Monday, July 29, on Google's blog. With its new Maps, which features Zagat's content for destinations like bars and restaurants, Google had already been signaling its intentions to simplify the long-running restaurateurs' guide.
Now there's a redesigned website, along with curated lists and prominently incorporated maps powered by Google. The Mountain View giant also announced that the cultural guide was free to anyone, with no registration required.
Simplicity seems to be the focus behind the new Zagat. The front page of Zagat.com now gives you the choice between just nine cities - Austin, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Washington D.C., and London - as opposed to 30 destinations, as it used to, according to Business Insider. At the top, next to your chosen location, are Lists, Buzz, Videos, and Places. While Videos and Buzz provide video or text articles about hot spots to eat and things like that, the Lists and Places menus are where give you see Google's influence. Lists gives you a curated Maps list with content like "6 of the Spiciest Menus in Chicago," which is not unlike the Explore feature on Maps, just guided by experts and all in one page. And Places, obviously brings up the Google-powered map as well.
Once on a restaurant's page, you'll see a lot more Google integration - in a different format, but almost identical content as Google Maps. You'll get the address and URL of the location, pictures from the restaurant, a link for directions, a mini-map, and an option to make a reservation with OpenTable.
Different than the Maps experience, Zagat.com and its associated apps retain the 30-point Zagat ratings system, which Google simplified as a five star system when it unveiled its new Maps platform. Right now, locations outside the nine cities are available, but only through search. Google says that the guide will feature more places, explaining that "over the coming months we plan to expand to 50 U.S. and international destinations." The guide will also expand to cover shopping, hotels, and other "places of interest," which is something that competitor Yelp! also does.
A decades-old restaurant guide company that started as a book on New York City restaurants in 1979, Zagat was acquired by Google for $151 million in May 2011. Soon after, Google began incorporating Zagat's rating services into Maps, and later bought the photographic and editorial content from another guide book company, Frommer's, to further bolster its review system.
Google's Zagat app is replacing the Google+ Local app for iPhone, which will disappear and no longer function by Aug. 7, according to Pocket-Lint. You can get the iOS app here, and the Android version here for free.