It’s no secret that crowdsourced review services like Yelp and Citysearch are directly responsible for the downfall of Zagat, whose city guides once reigned over the restaurant review space. If anything, it’s a testament to the Internet as the great leveler: Not only were the other services free, but the reviews were submitted by other like-minded restaurant-goers and aggregated to form a composite score. Essentially, what Yelp did was de-anonymize restaurant reviews to lend them credibility; no longer were they some faceless number in a guide.
But now, Zagat’s entered into a partnership with a new location-based discovery service called Picksie. The service launched in June, but was recently updated and is available to iPhone users for free through iTunes.
It’s a fine service that uses geo-location and search to find stuff to do in your area. For instance, if you type in “Chinese food,” it’ll aggregate surrounding restaurants and show their location relative to you on a map (with the Zagat score tacked on, if applicable). Picksie also has a partnership with Fandango, so when you’re interested in finding movie theaters you can click-through directly to buy your movie tickets.
The interface itself is smooth, and it uses cutesy icons to help users find their way around. It’s an interesting approach on Zagat’s part. I found myself more drawn to a restaurant if it was marked as “Zagat Rated,” though when I clicked around, I wasn’t able to easily navigate my way to an official review or synopsis.
The official Zagat app itself ($9.99) rates a woeful two (out of five) stars in the App Store, with plenty of user outrage to boot. One user is calling the current iteration “brazen, and frankly, incompetent” while others deem it “a complete waste of money.”
Which is, quite frankly, a bummer, especially as far more competent apps like the voice-activated Dragon Go! (which I’ve been using extensively) and even Foursquare (who’ve been stepping up their discovery game) are being used to determine where people are spending their hard-earned money.
Still, it’s wise of Zagat to spread their wings in the mobile space, especially in a partnership with an app as useful and intuitive as Picksie. Whether they’ll get off the ground again, however, is another question entirely.