The Google Places API has been updated today to include Place Summaries, which will include “curated expert reviews and ratings” based on user feedback. The new version of the API will also show establishments listed and recommended by Zagat, a restaurant-rating group also owned by Google.
In a post published on the Official Google Enterprise Blog, the company said: “So whether your customer is looking for a local Chinese restaurant or a national park, the Google Places API help them make a quick, informed decision about where to go and what to do.”
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The move will further increase the relevance and effectiveness of the Google Places API as a recommendation tool, something that Foursquare is trying to champion at the moment in its mobile apps. While being able to see what bars, restuarants and cafes is important to users, that information undoubtely becomes far more powerful once you know which ones to try out, and conversely which ones to avoid like the plague.
Google has suggested, as an example, that Place Summaries could be used in the API by car manufacturers as a means of providing detailed reviews of local establishments using their in-car system and display. It sounds reasonable, although we wouldn’t suggest looking at it for too long as the driver.
Zagat, meanwhile, launched a completely overhauled Android app last October, which came with the small caveat of forcing users to log-in using their Google account if they wanted to access all of the features. Given that the firm is owned by Google now though, following its acquisition in September 2011, it didn’t come as too much of a surprise.
Both in the mobile app and on Zagat’s website, users can write frank reviews about their experiences at any given restaurant, and also rate the business based on its food, decor, service and cost. These four elements are listed for every venue as a first glance metric of whether you should consider the place for your next meal. This also seems to feature prominently in the Google Places API, which is important if users want to judge a number of restaurants quickly without having to dig into numerous long-winded reviews.
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