Google Hotpot: A Social Network with Some Assembly Required

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Google Hotpot: A Social Network with Some Assembly Required

by Clint Boulton

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Introducing Hotpot

We have already mentioned how Hotpot helps users rate and review Google Places. But the cool thing about the service is that it also tracks the ratings to make better recommendations for the user in the Google Place mobile application. So if you rated a coffee shop with four stars, Hotpot will recommend other coffee shops with four stars. Sign in and follow along on this tour.

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Hotpot Website

Go to Hotpot and see Places near you.

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If you have enabled Web history in Google, Hotpot will show places you've searched before, making it easier to find businesses you may want to rate and review. Here, you can see we've searched for Starbucks and our local bank.

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We can then easily rate and write brief reviews from these places we've searched and likely frequented. Once we gave Starbucks and People's United Bank star ratings, we are invited to write reviews. So we do.

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Saved Places

You can also click a star to "save" places. So once you visit a place or business, you can go back to Hotpot to add the rating and color you like based on your assessment.

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Rated Places

Here is a list of places we've reviewed from the Hotpot Website or our Android handset. That's the beauty of Google's cloud. You can rate and review on Hotpot in Google Places from your mobile phone, then check out your "work" from your desktop. Or do the work on the desktop and see it from your Places application on your Android or iPhone handset.

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Suppose your experience at a restaurant changes each time you visit. Go back into Hotpot and edit your reviews if you choose. That's what we did here.

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Different Places

The beauty of Hotpot is that it leverages the 50 million-plus Google Places business listings. Restaurants aren't the only establishments in Trumbull, Conn., though you might think that from this review so far. We searched for auto mechanics and found plenty. The review listings were pretty blank, which means we can spend a lot of time populating them.

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Going Social

This part is the most fun: You can opt to share your reviews and ratings with friends and see friends' ratings and reviews surface when you search or look for recommendations. To start this process, click "Friends List" from the Hotpot Website.

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Add Friends

It's easy to invite friends. Just check the box next to their name and click "done." Your friends will receive e-mail inviting them to see your Google Hotpot ratings. Hotpot is no Yelp killer yet, but if enough people begin building out the service from their desktop, it could be an intriguing alternative to existing local recommendation services.

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