Yelp Stories January 12

Yelp shows user reports of places not following COVID-19 guidelines; Google should too

As COVID-19 rages on, tech is helping people stay safe and informed. Today, Yelp announced that it would allow customers to report on businesses that aren’t following COVID-19 guidelines such as employees lacking masks, and it’s something Google should also be doing.

Yelp Stories July 15, 2016

You can now use Yelp to find nearby PokeStops at restaurants and businesses

At this point it’s safe to say that Pokemon Go has pretty much everyone’s attention. Even though it hasn’t launched worldwide just yet, no one’s going to stop talking about it anytime soon. To benefit from the game’s popularity many businesses are using PokeStops to draw in customers, but even with signs outside and advertising on social media, many players don’t know exactly where to go to find them. Until now…

Yelp Stories November 25, 2015

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Over the weekend, executives from Yelp and TripAdvisor noticed that Google was pushing restaurant, or POI results from its services down in favor of its own. Neither of the popular location information services was particularly pleased to see it happening, but Google claims it was due to a “bug” and that it will be fixed…just as soon as possible!

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Yelp Stories November 13, 2015

Google expands Local Guides in Maps with new rewards

Google announced today that it’s expanding the Local Guides feature it has for Google Maps that aims to act as a community-driven virtual guide for points of interest with an integrated rewards program (which it could position as a Yelp competitor).

Among the biggest update for the expansion is new rewards for users, allowing access to upgraded Google Drive storage, early access to Google products and features, and more.

Google detailed the new rewards, which include the ability for users to earn a free 1 TB upgrade of Drive storage by accumulating a certain number of points. The top reward will make users eligible to attend Google’s inaugural summit in 2016: “… you’ll be able to meet other top Guides from around the world, explore the Google campus, and get the latest info about Google Maps. Look out for details early next year.”

Here’s a look at the new rewards:

Level 1 (0 – 4 points): Enter exclusive contests (think new Google devices!) in select countries.

Level 2 (5 – 49 points): Get early access to new Google products and features.

Level 3 (50 – 199 points): Show up in the Google Maps app with your official Local Guides badge.

Level 4 (200 – 499 points): Receive a free 1 TB upgrade of your Drive storage, allowing you to keep all the stories, photos, and videos from your travels in one safe place.

Level 5 (500+ points): The very top Local Guides will become eligible to apply to attend our inaugural summit in 2016, where you’ll be able to meet other top Guides from around the world, explore the Google campus, and get the latest info about Google Maps. Look out for details early next year.

Users can earn points by using the feature in Google Maps to do things like leaving a review, answering questions, uploading photos, and submitting fixes.

The expansion also includes an update that makes it easier for contributors to view and track local guides they’ve submitted.

Yelp Stories September 2, 2015

Google Maps for Android gains richer local recommendation search

Google Maps on mobile has since last year had an Explore section where users can find the best restaurants to eat at and things to do in their area. With an update rolling out today to the Android app, it’s becoming a bit more easy to specify and narrow down exactly what you’re looking for.

Prior to today, Explore only used the inputs of distance and time of day to determine what to show you. Users can now, however, specify a nearby neighborhood, category, and type of cuisine to find, on top of the existing inputs. Tapping on a suggested place will bring up more detail like who the vibe is best, or least, suited for, and sometimes it’ll include why Google chose to recommend that place in particular.

It seems crazy to me that Explore in Google Maps was lacking this type of gradual search before, but it was. The new inputs make perfect sense, too — what if I specifically want to find a place to have drinks with friends, and also make sure it’s not too upscale of a place? You couldn’t narrow your results down that far before, but now you can. Well, that’s if you’re in the US or UK, where the Explore update is limited to for now. And if you happen to be in NYC, San Francisco or London, Google will even curate its suggestions into named sections like “Best places for classic Mission-style Mexican food.”

Aside from the new search, the UI has been updated a bit with a card-based interface for swiping through suggested places and their corresponding photos. This interface closely matches what Google rolled out to its search product on mobile for rich content results just a few days ago. Maps for Android also recently saw its directions interface updated with a similar tabbed design displaying duration estimates for every form of transportation to a given location.

Other location-based recommendation apps like Foursquare and Yelp have had what Google is rolling out now for quite a while, it’s worth noting. When I find an APK for this new update I’ll be sure to update this post.

Yelp Stories August 20, 2015

Location check-in app Swarm continues to become a bit more like the Foursquare app of yesteryear, this time gaining a leaderboard system identical to the original one that helped to make Foursquare so addictive in the first place.

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Yelp Stories September 29, 2014

focus on the user

Google has long been the subject of antitrust complains and investigations in Europe, but now, some of the company’s competitors are starting to take note of its actions and step forward with their own issues. Yelp, TripAdvisor, and several other companies on Monday teamed up to launch a new website, Focus on the User, on which they express concerns regarding Google’s tendency to promote its own services at the expensive of its rivals. Which in turn, the companies argue, make it harder for customers to find Google’s competitors in results.

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Yelp Stories August 7, 2014

Yelp for Android update with Bing-powered review translation feature coming soon

Yelp announced today that it would be updating its Android application “soon” with a new feature that automatically translates reviews in 15 different languages. According to a Yelp blog post:

The translation feature works for all 15 officially supported Yelp languages: English, Czech, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, German, Spanish, Italian, Norwegian, French, Polish, Portuguese, Swedish, Turkish, and Japanese.

An exact date for the feature on Android has not been announced yet. The Yelp app is free on the Google Play Store.

Yelp Stories July 28, 2014

Yelp for Android update coming soon with the ability to add short videos to reviews

Yelp has announced that it will be updating its Android application with the ability to upload short videos (3-12 seconds) along with reviews in the coming days, as noted by The Next Web. Photo uploads have long been available to the service’s users, and the company now says that over 23,000 photos are being uploaded on a daily basis.

The updated Yelp app will be a free download for Android users from the Google Play Store.

Yelp Stories July 9, 2014

Yelp

TechCrunch has obtained leaked documents from within Yelp that accuse Google of manipulating search results to promote Google+ content over Yelp content. The report alleges that Google is boosting its own products on its search engine in the United States, but not in Europe where it is being slammed with antitrust complaints from European Union regulators. expand full story

Yelp Stories February 5, 2014

Photo: npr.org

Photo: npr.org

After more than three years of investigations and negotiations, Google and the European Union anti-trust authorities have finally settled the case in which the company was accused of abusing its dominant position in search.

The tl;dr version of the dispute was that Google search results were giving undue prominence to its own services – such as Google News and Google Shopping – and freezing out rivals. Google was eventually given a deadline of 31st January last year to submit proposals on how it would resolve the problem …  expand full story

Yelp Stories December 19, 2013

Earlier this year, Google launched Zagat for iPhone and iPod touch. The application is Google’s form of allowing users to discover new places, such as restaurants, across many cities in the United States. Today, Google has updated the application with support for the iPad’s larger display. Also in the mix is support for ratings and reviews for shops and restaurants. Support for Charleston, South Carolina and Nashville, Tennessee has also been added. The 2.0 update is free on the App Store.

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Yelp Stories September 23, 2013

Google-Play-reviews

The New York Times reports that New York regulators will today announce a new initiative that aims to crackdown on fake reviews online. They’ve already reached settlement agreements with a number of companies and issued fines of around $350,000 to companies purchasing and providing fake reviews, many of which are submitted to services such as Google, Yahoo, and Yelp. Fake reviews have always been an issue for Google Play and just about every mobile app marketplace, so perhaps regulators will soon extend their investigation to mobile app stores as well.

“What we’ve found is even worse than old-fashioned false advertising,” said Eric T. Schneiderman, the New York attorney general. “When you look at a billboard, you can tell it’s a paid advertisement — but on Yelp or Citysearch, you assume you’re reading authentic consumer opinions, making this practice even more deceiving.”

Regulators found that US Coachways, one of the companies included in the investigation, had hired freelance writers to write fake reviews on Yelp and other services: expand full story

Yelp Stories August 2, 2013

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In an effort to improve its local reviews and compete with services like Yelp, Google has just launched a new service dubbed City Experts (via Engadget). The network is open to users on Google+ who have reviewed at least 50 places already and are located in select cities  in the U.S., U.K., Australia, and Japan. In order to remain in good standing, City Experts must provide at least five new reviews each month that meet Google’s guidelines of being well written, are three or four sentences long, and include an image.

Are you an expert on all the best places to eat, shop and play in your city? If so, then we want you to join the Google City Expert program and start receiving exclusive perks! The Google City Expert program brings together the most active users on Google Maps who write reviews and upload photos of local places. A

Those who meet all of these guidelines will be rewarded with exclusive invites to local events, “special online recognition”, and “custom swag”, which is Google-branded items.

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Yelp Stories October 12, 2012

A Reuters report (via CNBC) from this afternoon claimed top U.S. Federal Trade Commission officials want to bring an antitrust case against Google over numerous complaints about it abusing search dominance to suppress competition in the market.

The FTC announced earlier this year that Washington lawyer Beth Wilkinson is leading its investigation, while FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz said last month they would reach a decision by 2013. If found guilty, the FTC and Google could enter settlement talks to resolve the matter or duke it out in court.

Reuters cited “three people familiar with the matter,” and it indicated Google could soon face the gristly negotiation process:

Four of the FTC commissioners have become convinced after more than a year of investigation that Google illegally used its dominance of the search market to hurt its rivals, while one commissioner is skeptical, the sources said. All three declined to be named to protect working relationships. Two of the sources said a decision on how to proceed could come in late November or early December. A long list of companies has been complaining to the FTC, arguing that the agency should crack down on Google.

Yelp  and Nextag have both criticized Google at open hearings in Congress, according to Reuters, asserting Google unjustly gives “their web sites low quality rankings in search results to steer Internet users away from their websites and toward Google products that provide similar services.”

Google has continually rebuffed any lawlessness or partial practices, and the search engine’s vice president of engineering, Amit Singhal, even stormed to the Google Public Policy Blog earlier this summer, in an aggressive tactic not usually taken by the Mountain View, Calif.-based company, to address the antitrust accusations in a “claim vs. fact” format.

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Yelp Stories June 29, 2012

Siri vs Google search in 1600-question street test

As noted by Phillip Elmer-DeWitt at Fortune, Apple analyst Gene Munster published a note to clients today that contained the results of a Siri vs. Google search 1600-question showdown.

While it is not exactly a test of how well the companies’ various voice services stack up against one another (since Google Search queries were typed-in and not spoken), but it is a good indication of just how viable Siri is as an everyday mobile search product and alternative to Google. In the test, both Google and Siri were asked 800 questions in a quiet location. Another 800 questions were asked among the loud street traffic in Minneapolis. The results, according to Fortune:

Yelp Stories December 14, 2011

Android and Me reports on a secret Google project aimed at adding a little conversational flare to Android Voice Actions. Dubbed Project Majel after Majel Barrett-Roddenberry – the voice of Star Trek‘s Federation Computer – it’s thought to be motivated by the success Apple’s seen with its clever marketing of the voice-controlled digital assistant Siri that debuted as an iPhone 4S exclusive on October 4.

According to the blog:

Majel is an evolution of Google’s Voice Actions that is currently available on most Android phones with the addition of natural language processing. Where Voice Actions required you to issue specific commands like ‘send text to…’ or ‘navigate to…’ Majel will allow you to perform actions in your natural language similar to how Siri functions.

Google is apparently working on Majel at clandestine Google X, the company’s top-secret lab headed by Sergey Brin. Majel should debut for Google search queries first. It’s unknown at this stage whether the technology incorporates some of the artificial intelligence traits exhibited in Apple’s Siri. expand full story

Yelp Stories September 8, 2011

Marisa Mayer just made the announcement:

So, today, I’m thrilled that Google has acquired Zagat. Moving forward, Zagat will be a cornerstone of our local offering—delighting people with their impressive array of reviews, ratings and insights, while enabling people everywhere to find extraordinary (and ordinary) experiences around the corner and around the world.

That is an interesting play which I’m pretty sure no one was expecting.  It gives Google a huge foothold in local and will certainly put Yelp, Open Table and company on the defensive and will also fit in nicely with its Offers service.  Zagat’s statement below the fold:

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Yelp Stories July 22, 2011

It seems like each day doesn’t pass without Google redesigning one of their products to match the Google+ look. While Google redesigned News yesterday, Place Pages have now been added to the list. The redesign matches the overall Google+ look so there’s not much explaining there, but the way Google now handles reviews is worth noting.

As TechCrunch reports rather than stealing reviews from sources like TripAdvisor and CitySearch, Google now uses reviews form its users. The business above originally had 1,110 reviews but is now down to 171 reviews after the redesign. Google notes:

Based on careful thought about the future direction of Place pages, and feedback we’ve heard over the past few months, review snippets from other web sources have now been removed from Place pages. Rating and review counts reflect only those that’ve been written by fellow Google users, and as part of our continued commitment to helping you find what you want on the web, we’re continuing to provide links to other review sites so you can get a comprehensive view of locations across the globe.

We’ve also heard there was some legal input into this as Yelp and others were crying foul to the Justice Dept.

Yelp Stories June 27, 2011

Search Engine Land is reporting that Google is testing a new black navigation bar. This doesn’t necessarily mean it’s on its way out anytime soon, but it’s worth a look. You’ll notice that it does bring more attention to the top. But for now, this could just be measly a test. expand full story

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