Google makes places more social with Hotpot
We’ve got search engines, decision engines and now a recommendation engine – Google Hotpot. The location-based tool is “powered by you and your friends” to review real-world places in exchange for recommendations of businesses you might want to try.
Facebook recently launched its Places offering which allows people to check-in on their mobile phones. This move has increased competition in that market between the original creators of that idea Foursquare and Gowalla.
Google Hotpot has gone a different way and doesn’t involve any checking in, but we imagine this feature will come along in time. At the moment you search by business type and your current location. You’re able to give the business a star-rating and/or a written review.
The UI is friendly and clean (as you would expect from Google). If you have a Gmail account you can use this to sign in rather than having to create an account.
This isn’t Google's first attempt at a location-based tool. In 2005 it acquired the social network Dodgeball, created by Dennis Crowley who went on to make Foursquare. Users privacy concerns have stopped the Latitude app taking off. Although a new feature from Google, this isn’t a unique idea. Qype and Yelp are already established big names in that market. Google has piggy-backed this information into its service by showing “reviews from around the web” on each businesses page.
Currently in its infancy so there are some bugs to iron out. For example not all locations have a photo and their StreetView image doesn’t always point in the right direction. But these are minor issues and it’s great to be able to find places near you that your friends, or the community, have highly rated.