Google Android Phones Get Hotpot Local Recommendations

Google Nov. 15 launched its Hotpot local recommendation engine in Google Maps for Android 4.7, helping users get input on places from friends.

Google Nov. 15 moved to socialize its Google Maps for Android application by adding local recommendations about locations from friends.

Google Maps 4.7 for Android leverages Hotpot, the company's new local recommendation, to let users rate, write and publish reviews about restaurants, coffee shops and other establishments from smartphones based on Android 1.6 and later.

When users rate places they like, Google will suggest other related places they may like based on their rating.

Users may see recommended places from Hotpot in four places: in search results by using the new Place Search and clicking on the "Places" filter; on Google Maps; on Google Maps for Android; or when checking the Place pages for a specific business.

Users may install a new rating widget from their homescreen by going to Menu > Add > Widgets > Rate Places. Users who choose not to use the widget may also post ratings and reviews from any Place page.

The Places app with Hotpot support will come to the iPhone soon, said Google Mobile Product Manager Mat Balez, who explained the value of Hotpot in a blog post:

"First, your ratings will personalize your search results by customizing them according to your tastes. Even better, when you add friends to the mix using Hotpot on your computer, your ratings will point them in the direction of the best enchiladas in town the next time they crave Mexican food, wherever they happen to be."

Google, which explained Hotpot in detail here, encouraged users to add friends to get recommendations for the places they enjoy.

Google Maps has location info and other details for 50 million places around the world as part of the company's recently ramped up local search effort to combat Yelp, Foursquare, Facebook and Twitter.

Facebook made perhaps the boldest move in the space two weeks ago with Facebook Deals, which leverages Facebook Places to help consumers find sales and other promotions from local businesses using their mobile phone.