Last year, Google decided to cut a bunch of projects and streamline its offerings. As CEO Larry Page put it, the company wants to put “more wood behind fewer arrows.” Today, we’ve seen another example of this. As part of its continuous, relentless pursuit to make Google+ popular, Google has tied locations on its Maps and Places services to Google+ profiles. In addition, it has added in Zagat ratings. Google purchased Zagat last September. The changes were detailed in a new blog post.
The strange part? Instead of pushing Google+ features into products like Maps and Places, it has first introduced a “Local” tab in Google+. From this tab, Google gives recommendations of restaurants via Zagat ratings, much like you’d expect in a desktop version of Google Places (a prominent Android app). There are social aspects, but they aren’t prominent. For example, you can now comment on the Google+ page of a business or post an album of photos about that business. That seems to be about it.
More useful are the features that will be coming later today. Google has supposedly integrated Zagat directly into Google Maps, allowing you to see ratings and hopefully do everything you can do on Google+ without…having to use Google+. The Places app on Android should get an update as well.
Though we haven’t taken all of the new features for a spin, the Google+ Local page currently feels somewhat shoehorned into the social network. A full tab is somewhat unneeded and the experience of using it is anything but personal at the moment. Organizationally, it is somewhat cluttered as well. Hopefully these kinks will be ironed out in the future. Currently, we don’t see many people going to Google+ to get information on nearby locations.