Liz Gannes

Recent Posts by Liz Gannes

Google’s New Zagat Is Much More Limited (For Now), but It’s Free

Google today put out a gussied-up version of the Zagat website, Android and iOS apps.

Regular users of Zagat’s famous local ratings might be disappointed to find that the new site features just nine cities: San Francisco, Austin, Boston, Chicago, London, Los Angeles, New York City, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C.

However, a searchable directory of existing ratings and reviews will be added back to the site “in the next couple days,” said a Google spokesperson.

It’s not clear why this wasn’t ready for the launch, as the gap is only going to make people upset.

What’s going on is that Zagat is trying to change its focus to a more editorial experience, where it produces focused news and video content about specific cities. It’s an unexpected move for a property owned by the techety techs at Google.

“These days, the challenge in deciding where to go is not about a lack of information or user reviews, but finding accurate information and trusted opinions so you can quickly make informed decisions,” wrote Google’s Gannon Hall, who is now head of Zagat, in a blog post.

Hall said the new editorial-focused Zagat would expand to 50 cities within “the coming months.”

The new Zagat is also now completely free and does not require registration. That hadn’t been the case in the past, though Zagat’s policies had been weirdly inconsistent.

For instance, a previous version of the Zagat iOS app, which had been pulled last year, had cost $10. And the previous Android app, which had been live since around that time, was free but had required sign-in with Google+. Meanwhile, Google has said it is “retiring” the Google+ Local app for iOS in favor of Google Maps for Mobile for iOS.

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— Valleywag editor Sam Biddle