Last night, Google launched its latest addition, a rating and recommendation service called Google Hotpot. The service, which works similarly in theory to Yelp, prompts users to rate businesses and restaurants you're familiar with while connecting with friends and their own rankings and recommendations. And, after you rank or review five locations, Google will start to recommend locations based on your personal taste.

It's easy to get started: visit the Hotpot page and enter a category (like "restaurants") and a location. Search results appear as a grid displaying large images and business information. Click stars to rate each location, or choose to skip the location altogether, as "Not Interested," or save it for later. After giving a location a positive rating, you're asked to write a small review or share a tip — but if you choose not to, the prompt disappears on its own.

For more on Hotpot (including how to become the top influencer in your friend group), read more.


You can connect with friends over Hotpot, and Google displays them in leaderboard format, encouraging you to compete with your friends to become the top influencer. Rating a few of your favorite places also helps if you're using Google Maps to search for a location. Choose "Search with recommendations on Google Maps" to display a map view of nearby locations; recommended destinations are highlighted.

While the reviews-and-recommendations space is crowded (mostly with review giant Yelp), I think there is a place for Google Hotpot, especially given its seamless integration with Google Maps. Once you and your friends have recommended or reviewed enough locations, Google could easily predict what type of place you're looking for, eliminating the need to slog through a huge number of recommendations from anonymous users.