Google May 19 made it easier for users to geolocate information users have generated with their smartphones, including check-ins from Foursquare.
Google Places is a Google Maps-based portal that connects consumers to local businesses. One of its core components is to make it easier for users to leave reviews and ratings of businesses they visit.
This effort underscores Google's push to socialize its Web services, but it's also a way to engender more patronage for the local businesses it is serving on Places.
To further hone the rating/review aspect, Google is both aggregating users' ratings and reviews created on Google and letting users integrate places people have frequented or discovered using Foursquare and other Web services.
Users may rate and review these businesses using the Places Hotpot recommendation engine. When users visit their Google Places profiles, they'll see a link to the left pointing them to an Atom feed of all the place ratings and reviews they've created on Google.
"The feed address is known only to you, but you are free to share it however you want," explained Google software engineer Juan Silveira.
To rate and review locations on Google that users discovered elsewhere online, users can find the URL of a public GeoRSS/Atom feed that contains place information they want to integrate on Places.
For example, Foursquare users can find the feed on their Foursquare profile, copy the link and paste it into the Places search box. Google will show place cards that line up with the places in the public geo feed.
Interestingly, most tech savvy bloggers like the idea if not the practice. ReadWriteWeb's Marshall Kirkpatrick, a huge fan of data portability, was excited about this.
However, Mike Blumenthal and TechCrunch's MG Siegler dislike the RSS association. Most bloggers believe RSS is a dying (even dead, already) technology they want to see buried completely by Twitter and other true real-time services and feeds.
The broader point is that Google is continuing to draw its social, mobile and local wagon in a tighter circle, arming itself for battle versus Facebook, Groupon, Foursquare and others for local search and commerce.