Google has just launched its own place-recommendation service, but unlike its biggest rival Yelp, this one will be exclusively about social connections and seeing what your friends say.
Culling from Google's existing directory of 50 million businesses around the world, Hotpot links up to your friends and tells you which locations are ranked the highest among the people you trust.
It's an initiative to dethrone Yelp and Facebook as the leaders in recommendations for local places. Unlike those services, which act like a Yellow Pages listing and share reviews left by anyone and everyone, Hotpot will look only at people you bring into your personal Hotpot network.
After downloading Hotpot, Google encourages you to immediately review everything in your area that you've been to. This includes hotels, restaurants, gyms, and retailers.
There's also a Web-based version of Hotpot for you to leave your comments and find recommendations from other users.
"With Hotpot, we're making local search results for places on Google more personal, relevant and trustworthy," wrote Google product manager Lior Ron in a company blog post.
While not revolutionary or really that different from services like Yelp, it is Google's first real push into the market by itself.
Also, because it's on Android, it'll be fully integrated into your phone, since you're always connected to your Google Account.
It's just the latest in Google's big sweep to become more social. While the idea of needing to set up friends again for another service may seem daunting, it's just the way the world works these days.
Mark Raby Based in New York City, Mark follows the consumer electronics industry like a hawk. A published book author, he has a particular affinity for 3D technology and video games, and as such will surely be in the market for a new pair of glasses soon. Mark can be contacted directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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