People gauge their experiences and expectations based upon those of others. It’s why such services like Yelp exist. The social review website has for years exposed consumers to new and unexplored restaurants, bars and coffee houses. In fact, the service has made such a name for itself that businesses wear those little red Yelp stickers like a badge of honor.
Google, not one to be content with being on the outside looking in, is bringing its own Yelp-like service to iOS users. (We know, Google Maps has included user reviews for a long time). Meet the newly rechristened Google+ Local, now with Zagat ratings.
If you’ve ever used Yelp, Google+ Local is the same idea, just Google-ized. The main screen is a grid of icons with categories (bars, restaurants, coffee, etc.), where users can easily see what’s about town (there’s a dedicated pizza button!). You can also easily find places by searching and there’s also an option to use your voice rather than typing. We asked it find Chipotle, and it did so without any issue.
Or, for a broader search, I could simply say “Mexican restaurants,” and it’ll show me what’s nearby. Everything is displayed with a list, where I can narrow things down by distance, rating and price. Or, rather than sorting through a list, you can see everything shown on a map and simply click on the little red balloon icon to see the business’s name and rating.
Clicking on a business will give you quick buttons to call, see on map, directions and more info, and below that you can see what the community is saying. Zagat ratings are the big addition to Google’s rebranded Places app, which rates establishments based on a 30-point scale. Ratings are defined by food, decor, service and cost.
I’m not a big Google+ user, so I can’t see much of a reason for someone who frequently uses Yelp to switch. Because, really, that’s the big news here. There seems to be a lot of functionality included in Yelp for iOS that just isn’t present in Google+ Local, but I’d imagine the newly rebranded app to receive more support over the summer.
Google’s offering is designed in a bare-bones fashion, and it lacks the vibrant life of the competing Yelp platform. In addition, Google+ Local doesn’t have Yelp’s awesome “Monocle” feature, which uses augmented reality in order to show what’s nearby. There are a lot of categories Google+ Local currently doesn’t cover, either, which makes it feel less personal.