Now that Google has unveiled the new Google Maps – which has its own collection of reviews and ratings system for businesses – the search engine giant has confirmed that it’s shutting down Google+ Local for iOS, its mobile search and discovery application for iPhones, iPods, and iPads.
The app is expected to close as a stand-alone Google product on August 7. (Apparently it has also already been removed from Apple’s iTunes app store.) According to a company spokesperson, Google+ Local app’s functionality and features will be incorporated into the new Google Maps for iOS – the way the Android version of Google+ Local was incorporated into Maps for Android earlier this month.
(Check out: “Updated Google Maps Set to Compete with Yelp and Foursquare”)
Google+ Local represented an evolution from what had formerly been called Google Places. As Google’s own review and recommendation service, it aggregated online reviews of local businesses (as generated by Googe+ users), integrated the Zagat system for rating establishments, delivered personalized (and location-based) recommendations to individual users, and gave business owners a social platform that was also tied with Google’s powerful search engine.
While Google+ Local will close as a stand-alone product, Google assures that all user reviews and ratings that it generated will remain accessible via the new Google Maps, a user’s Google+ profile, and possible other Google products. Zagat reviews and ratings of businesses, for example, have already been added to the new Maps, and are based on a new five-star system. Google+ Local listings and Zagat ratings and review highlights also appear on Google’s new “Carousel” search engine results, which the company likens to “expandable cards” meant to help Google Search users learn more about a business in a specific geographic area.
Other Google+ Local features that will be integrated into Google Maps for iOS include: the ability to search by categories of places, as in “restaurants,” “hostels,” or “coffee shops”; personalized recommendations from people in a user’s Google+ circles; the ability to rate and review places, from within the app.
While the shutdown of the Google+ Local app demonstrates Google’s efforts to streamline its products, TechCrunch’s Sarah Perez suggests that the move is not without a downside. “Though much of the functionality has now made it over to Google Maps,” she wrote, “the Local app was useful for its singular focus, which made it an easy-access tool for local listings. Maps is a more robust, feature-rich application, which doesn’t always work best when you’re in need of speed.”