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November 16, 2010

Google Hotpot: Local Recommendations from Friends

Google launched a new service called Hotpot that promises to improve local search results using recommendations from your friends. "With Hotpot, we're making local search results for places on Google more personal, relevant and trustworthy," explains Google.

To get useful recommendations, you first need to share your ratings with your friends, but Hotpot's main problem is that it's not connected to any social network. When you first visit the service, Google asks you to enter a nickname for Google Places and to send invitations to some of your Gmail contacts. You're creating a new contacts group in a standalone application, instead of using an existing list of friends.

Google Hotpot is mostly useful when you try to find a place using Google's local search engine. Google personalizes the results by promoting the local businesses recommended by your friends.

Unfortunately, Hotpot is a completely unnecessary service, considering that you could already review places and that the reviews were already public. Google Maps was one of the first Google services that integrated with Google Profiles, so sharing your ratings with your friends was the obvious next step. Google Reader did that in 2007, but many users were unhappy because their favorite posts were automatically shared with Google Talk contacts and some of those contacts were automatically added by Google. Two years later, Google Buzz made the same mistake by automatically subscribing users to the list of Google Talk friends.

Google will never develop successful social services until users are able to create a list of friends that could be used in multiple services. To avoid the backslash from the Google Buzz launch, Google Hotpot asks you to manually add friends, but maintaining separate lists of friends is cumbersome.


  1. "Super Yelp's Rival"

    Unfortunately, it's badly redirected loop since its launch. Because the page isn't redirecting properly, I'm still experiencing nothing. Fatal problem w/ any browser.

  2. I can certainly understand how Google would want to avoid a Buzz-like repeat. On the other hand, what would stop Google from simply allowing people to click on already existing contact lists, rather than requiring users to start a new list from scratch?

  3. I quite agree with you.

    I really can't believe that I should have to select a name and photo, and build a list of friends for each different Google service.

    Google's offerings are a total mess.

  4. This is only starting to get shape, Google tinkers with stuff. some of them work, some of them don't. :D

    The social networking sites are really ... ah, I don't know what to say. :D

  5. Interesting service. But I wont directly jump on this. I will prefer to wait & see how other friends react on this.

  6. I have heard a little about google hotpot but do not have much more information about. After reading the above post I got idea about it and now I can understand more about google hotpot.

  7. Hi guys,

    I want to give hotpot a try, but I just can't access the page (, every time I point there I get the following error: "This webpage has a redirect loop.". Can you give me a hand with this?

  8. Agreed, Google doesn't get social and this experiment is dumb

  9. This review is rubbish. Think of Hotpot what you like - but don't say that it doesn't add something new. At least not, if you want to retain a bit of credibility. Google has repeatedly stated that it is a *recommendation* engine. You couldn't get recommendations on Google Maps. Now you can with Hotpot. Simple as that

  10. Furthermore, you misunderstand the service. You write: "To get useful recommendations, you first need to share your ratings with your friends, but Hotpot's main problem is that it's not connected to any social network." This is flat out wrong. You don't need a single friend on Hotpot to make it work. It's a recommendation *engine* with a social layer - *not* a social network. As you might recall, Google writes: "When you rate places you like, we’ll tell you about other related places you’ll love".

  11. Every time i try to post a review it gives me error message and i never able to get to post my review. and the most common that me and my other friends get is Network Error: HTTP Error


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