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Google announced changes to its Maps app to make ratings and reviews more prominent just in time for Yelp to sprint ahead and launch the ability to place food orders on theirs.
Let’s start with Google. Ever since Apple tripped over itself with shoddy map development last year and Google saved the day with its iPhone app, the search engine has been at the top of the map market. They recently purchased Waze, and for the most part people are excited to see what they do with it. Now they want to further increase Google Maps usage by fleshing out the reviews and ratings.
Google Maps already lets users review their experiences, but the reviews are hardly as in-depth and plentiful as those on Yelp. The new app incorporates a 5.0 star ranking system (similar to the one Facebook recently added) and shows the Zagat rating of nearby restaurants and bars.
While drawing more attention to reviews is hardly a death blow for Yelp and Foursquare, Google is definitely on their respective tails. On top of the rating system, they’re adding an “Explore” section that shows nearby, highly-rated places. If you’re looking for a coffee shop, the new Maps app will show you the closest ones and their reviews. They also want to sync with Google Commerce to let users pick up deals and discounts. Does that sound familiar? Of course, if you’re lost in an unfamiliar territory, you can still use the navigation system to get from point A to point B. It is a maps service after all.
Just as Google might have started thinking that it’s a major competitor for review apps, Yelp announced that users can soon do more than review restaurants, they can order food from them. In a blog post published yesterday, Yelp laid out a partnership with delivery.com and Eat24 for select cities and explained plans to expand the delivery and pickup service.
Yelp eventually wants users to order food, make dentists appointments, set up spa days, and plan all their day-to-day activities with their app. Not only can you discover local pottery classes, you can also sign up for them without leaving the Yelp interface.
Yelp is trying to become more than a review service and Google Maps is trying to be more than a navigation app. The idea that mega-apps like Yelp and Google Maps can’t limit themselves with specialization is also found in other corners of the Internet. Facebook is seemingly trying to stick its fingers into multiple pies by building up their reviews section, maps section, search section and any other section that someone else is successful in. Amazon has grown from an Internet marketplace to a video streaming service and even Twitter has joined the music streaming competition.
Is this the Internet version of survival of the fittest? Will the last apps standing be hyper-specialized, or will they do anything users want, from updating statuses to washing cars?