Where is Google Hotpot? Now Part of Google Places

By Tracey E. Schelmetic May 16, 2011

In the rising noise levels of a variety of location-based services, it's easy to miss one when it goes “missing.” Some people have been wondering lately what happened to Google Hotpot, a location-based service introduced in November of last year that was a complement to Google's primary location-based services, Places.

Turns out, Google hasn’t ditched Hotpot, it just incorporated it more fully into Places, Google announced back on April 8 (fairly quietly, though, since everyone missed it). Hotpot was “graduating” the service to become a key social-networking meets local ratings part of Places, writes Yahoo Tech News blogger Tecca.

Google Hotpot was introduced to “push deeper into the realm of location-based services” by offering users a more personalized, social-media flavored service than Google Places. Hotpot’s tiled interface encouraged users to rate and comment on their favorite local hangouts while aggregating local data from already prominent local resources like Yelp. Hotpot had a lot of competition, however, and the service got a bit lost in a plethora of other options.

Places, of course, uses the full strength of Google's search engine, combined with its mapping and location capabilities and boundless user base. It also aggregates data from other services to broaden its information base.

With Places, users can search for, rate and review local businesses and attractions in a simple, easy-to-use interface. Simply log in (there's no lengthy account creation process, just choose a username), enter a search term such as “restaurants” and Google will automatically show you a page full of options near you. You can see the average ratings from other users and choose your own on a scale of 1 to 5 stars, or designate choices to be “The Best Ever” (though you only get 10 of these, so don't be hyperbolic too often).

Thanks to the integration of Hotpot, Places now offers a tiled interface arranged in a series of “Place cards,” one for each business in the area you're searching. Each Place card contains a picture, the name of the business, information such as address and type of cuisine or other identifying factors, and an average rating. There are also options to save it for later or tell Places you're not interested. If you click on a business name, you'll be taken to its Place page, where you can read much more information and reviews.

Google has broadened the reach of Places and Hotpot now: the company has released an iPhone and Android app, integrated Hotpot recommendations into Google.com and Google Maps, expanded to more than 47 languages and enabled people to share their ratings and reviews to Twitter.

So why was it called “Hotpot” in the first place (at first glance, it seemed like a typo). Said Google, “Many of you first asked us at Hotpot’s launch: Why the name? Hotpot, the dish, describes a shared eating experience. To us, the name embodied the communal experience of sharing your ratings and reviews with friends, and getting recommendations in return.”

Yeah, well. Perhaps “Places” does have a better ring anyway.

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Tracey Schelmetic is a contributing editor for TechZone360. To read more of Tracey's articles, please visit her columnist page.

Edited by Jennifer Russell

TechZone360 Contributor

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