Google today gave Zagat, the restaurant review service it acquired in 2011, a set of new mobile apps for iOS and Android, as well as a complete facelift on the web. For the first time, Google says, all of the service’s ratings and reviews are now available for free and without the need to register.
Currently, the new Zagat covers restaurants and nightlife nine cities, but Google says it plans to expand this list to over 50 U.S. and international destinations. Today, the site only covers San Francisco, Austin, Boston, Chicago, London, Los Angeles, New York City, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. Google also plans to expand the range of reviews to include hotels, shopping and “other places of interest,” something the printed Zagat guides have been doing for a while now.
The new site, Google says, will also feature news and video content from local editors, as well as curated lists, improved search and map-based browsing. You will also be able to make reservations through Open Table and read menus before you arrive at the restaurant. The website, of course, still lets you participate in the usual Zagat surveys.
It’s interesting to see that Google is holding on to the Zagat brand. After acquiring the company, it wasn’t clear if Google was just interested in the content for its Google Maps and Google+ Local brands and whether it would shut Zagat down sooner or later.
Today’s launch, however, explains why Google is shutting down its Google+ Local app for iOS on August 7. While Google says it did so because Google Maps now does most of what the Local app used to do, there would have been quite a bit of overlap with Zagat.