Google Places Hotpot Attacks Yelp and Co. with Openness


Chances are that if you want to rate a local business, your first destination will be Yelp or a similar service. Google, however, has been steadily adding its own ratings services to its portfolio. The oddly named Google Hotpot – which is now deeply integrated into Google Places – is Google’s most direct Yelp competitor. Starting today, Google Places users will get better access to their rating there, as well as the ability to import any GeoRSS feed from other services like Foursquare to their Hotpot/Google Places profile. In addition, users can also grab a feed of their Google Places rating and import it elsewhere. While I can’t think of a service that actually could make good use of these feeds right now, chances are we will see other services that will allow users to import that data soon.

Given that GeoRSS feeds are tagged with GPS coordinates and not the actual name of the location, Google will, “as best as we’re able to determine,” present you with a place card for the business the lines up best with these coordinates.

Being able to import Foursquare data, for example, should make it easier for Places users to add more ratings to the system, which in turn, of course, also means the Google will have more ratings to add to its own product.

Smart Idea – But Will Users Bite?

It’s hard not to look at this and think that Google hopes to compete with Yelp and similar services by being more open and allowing more of its data to flow in and out of the system. This, to me, sounds like a smart plan, though given that the current setup involves copying and pasting the addresses of RSS feeds, I doubt that many mainstream users will make use of it. Mainstream users have famously ignored RSS feeds for years, so chances are few will use this import/export feature.

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Google Enlists Twitter in Hopes of Making Hotpot Go Viral


It’s hard to estimate just exactly how successful (or not) Google Hotpot, the company’s recently launched Yelp competitor, really is. Thanks to its integration with Google Maps and Google Places, it’s likely more popular than Google Buzz, though, and judging from the increase in ratings from Google users we’ve seen on Google Places lately, it’s probably working out well for Google. The company wants more publicity for Hotpot, however. Starting today, Google also lets you syndicate your ratings for local businesses from the Google Maps Android app to Twitter, marking this one of the first times that Google has enlisted Twitter in its tools to not just pull in information but also to syndicate it out.

The functionality itself is pretty straightforward. Users who rate local businesses in the Google Maps Android app will get a choice to post their reviews to Twitter. Tweets will include a link that point to the Google Places page for the specific business.

Also New: Google Latitude Wants to Make Meeting up in Person Easier

Another update to the Google Maps Android app today brings an interesting new feature to the Google Maps app that allows you to send messages to those friends who checked-in on Google Latitude recently and meet up with them in person without having to send multiple text messages. Instead of having to call or text them, you can just “ping” them to ask them where they are now. They will then receive a notification on their phone, allowing them to check in at a place where they would like to meet up with you.

This feature sounds a bit like the upcoming version of EchoEcho. The disadvantage of Google’s implementation of this, though, is that your friends have to be on an Android phone as well and the procedure for setting up in-person meetings doesn’t feel very intuitive so far.

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Google Places with Hotpot Comes to the iPhone


Google Places, Google’s database of local businesses that is tightly integrated into Google Maps, just arrived on the iPhone in the form of a stand-alone application. This app also includes support for Hotpot, the company’s new social review and recommendation service that is taking up the fight against incumbents like Yelp and CitySearch. Android users already had access to this feature since November 2010.

The app works just like you would expect it. Once started, you will be greeted with a choice of categories (restaurants, bars, gas stations, hotels, etc.) and clicking on their respective icons then gets you to a list of relevant businesses close to you. If you actively rate places on Hotpot, you will also get better local recommendations that could be a bit farther away from you but are more likely to be of interest to you. Of course, you can also see your friends’ reviews and recommendations from Places and Hotpot in the app.

For now, this application will be available in English only. Google expects to roll out more features and localizations in the near future.

Google has recently put a lot of emphasis on the oddly named Hotpot. Earlier this week, it also announced the integration of Hotpot directly into Google Maps, one of the company’s most popular products. This app will surely help Google to drive the adoption rate of Hotpot even higher and bring more reviews to its database.


hotpot on iphone

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