Google Unveils Yelp-Like “Hotpot”

Google, one of the fastest growing segments of the Internet and technology industry, has just unveiled its latest feature – Hotpot, a location-based recommendation engine that is powered by “you and your friends.”

Hotpot will take all of Google Places’ ratings and reviews features and add a personal tough.  Currently, Place pages mostly take review data from sources like Yelp, the popular business-review website. With Hotpot, users will be able to rate and review businesses directly from their Google-linked profile.  Users ratings and reviews are tracked with a counter at the top of the profile, and likes and dislikes will be “remembered” and used in Google’s recommendation engine.

Hotpot is aimed at regular Internet users and consumers, rather than the just-the-facts, business-friendly interface of Places. Hotpot works well with Places’ data, but its presentation presents data like star-ratings and images for each place in a grid format, without too many details like a phone number or a URL – details that users may only need if they want to go to a place.

Another feature of Hotpot is that users can create a profile nickname to separate their Hotpot account from their general Google profiles – right now, the whole Web can see a person’s Places nickname, but only friends can see the linked Google profile/the user’s real name.  Google Hotpot will use Gmail accounts and linked Google profiles to help users find their friends, and in turn, their friends’ reviews and ratings.

For example, if you were to search “sushi Chicago” in Hotpot, you would be able to filter your results to see businesses and places you haven’t rated before, and you can also choose to see places your Hotpot friends have rated.

So essentially, Google Hotpot is like Yelp, only much more personalized.

What do you guys think? I think it has potential, but if I want a recommendation for a restaurant from my friends, wouldn’t I just, you know, ask my friends?

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