Fewer Google Web services have seen such an acceleration of innovation as Google's local search strategy, and the company continued that trend through the week of February.
Google took its Hotpot local recommendation engine global, offering it in 38 new languages and melding it in the regular search results on Google.com, and added check-ins to its Google Latitude friend-finding app.
Those two actions appear on the surface as two separate software developments, but they are tied together by common threads: Google Maps and the company's desire to expand its purview in local search.
Hotpot rolled out as a feature for its Google Places local listings service on Google Maps in November, but expanded to its own Website to let users rate restaurants, hotels, cafes and other businesses, and add friends.
When users perform new searches, Google will serve up personalized results, listing places based on tastes and friend recommendations. The idea is to boost relevance of local search results as people search from their desktop at home or mobile phone on-the-go.
Google has been steadily increasing the access points for Hotpot, from Google Places to the Hotpot Website, Google Maps, a Maps for Android widget and from the iPhone.
Now users logged into their Google account can see Hotpot recommendations in their regular search results on Google.com. So a user looking for a restaurant in, say New York City, will see Hotpot recommendations from friends as well as their name and photo directly beneath that restaurant's listing.
Users can also see all recommendations by your friends by clicking Places on the left-hand side of the page, and choosing the Friends only button.
Formerly available only in English, Hotpot is available in Chinese, French, German, Italian, Korean, Polish, Russian and Spanish, among other lanugages.