It would be nearly impossible to write about the forthcoming Zagat iPhone app without comparing it with. For starters, Zagat To Go 3.0 for iPhone will have augmented reality when it comes out (we received a sneak peek.) As with Yelp's , first introduced as an Easter Egg in Yelp 3.0, Zagat To Go's augmented reality search option will layer a business' location over the real-world view that you see through the camera lens of an iPhone 3GS (and 3GS only--this is typical of augmented reality technology.)
And then there's this goody: Zagat To Go lets registered users submit their ratings and quippy remarks about a business directly from the iPhone app--or from their table. While Yelp's iPhone app gives you 140 characters, Twitter-style, to write a quick tip, the app will only let you begin a draft for a rated review to finish up later from a computer. Zagat To Go throws 240 characters your way and lets you submit your witty ratings then and there.
Zagat To Go 3.0 one-ups Yelp one more time by introducing an optional offline mode (you'll get to it in the settings.) You'll need a whole heap of stable Wi-Fi to download the 104MB content. It took us a whopping 25 minutes and 14 seconds over choppy public Wi-Fi after a few self-aborted attempts. Our data connection has been too strong to stress test how well the app handles searches offline, but we'll follow up a little later on when we can get our iPhone to a dark tunnel or cave. At any rate, offline mode or some form of caching is an option we'd welcome on any app that helps us hungry grumps find victuals.
We know what you're thinking. Zagat To Go costs $10, which is $10 more than Yelp's free ratings app, and Yelp surfaces information about far more restaurants. True, which is why the Zagat app is aimed at gastronomes who might otherwise seek out Zagat ratings in paperback form. We're also guessing that the fine foodie crowd could still benefit from some of Yelp's features; namely special offers and the capability to upload a picture from the table.
Handmark, Zagat's partner in making mobile apps, tells CNET it plans to submit Zagat To Go 3.0 for iPhone to the App Store on Wednesday. Look for it to surface sometime after that.