Google rolls out "Hotpot" service to increase social mobile

Posted by Mark Raby

Google has launched a new service called Hotpot, a bright and colorful new social way to find the best restaurants and stores in your area.

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.