Google has announced a new tool for Places that could help the product take on competition in the local space better. Called Hotpot, the new service is primarily a recommendation engine that lets users rate local businesses as well as gather reviews from people in their network while exploring new places.
Users checking out businesses over Google Maps will let them rate businesses. Doing so will get the system to recommend similar businesses in the neighborhood along with their ratings and reviews. The user may either invite their friends to join them on Hotpot to review these places or read reviews already left by their friends. The new Hotpot engine can be accessed via the web browser as well as over the Google Maps app on Android phones where the user may also offer ‘tips’ as a mark of recommendation of particular businesses.
With Hotpot, Google appears to have created a product that will take on Yelp, Foursquare and SCVNGR at the same time. It will be interesting to see how these rivals adapt to fresh competition from the big G.