We thought it wouldn’t take long and Google certainly didn’t disappoint.
Less than two months after its release, Google has started pushing reviews and ratings from Hotpot into Google Maps.
Google’s aim for this is to make the Google Maps results more personalized for users by providing more personal, relevant and trustworthy reviews and to stay up to date with the latest places recommended or reviewed by your Hotpot friends. All Hotpot users on logging into their Google accounts will see recent activity from their Hotpot friends in the left-side window, as shown below.
Does Google have an ulterior motive for this integration? It would appear that Google is taking a direct shot at Yelp, the review site whose user’s ratings were included in the Google Maps results. Google Hotpot was launched last November in direct competition to Yelp who offers a similar service. With the introduction of a system that will recommend sites based on personal preferences & reviews and by integrating it into mobile, map and search pages it would seem that Google no longer has a need for Yelp.
Google says this new feature is available to both desktop and iPhone users and also that the integration of Hotpot reviews to Google Maps is still in its beta stage so users can expect to see the feature being further developed, making it even easier for them to keep track of their friends’ activities. Hotpot recommendations will also appear, in the Google Places search results when appropriate. With such an extensive user-base Google is all set to take advantage of these numbers and the fact that people are getting more and more interested in looking up reviews and recommendations from trusted sources.
Even though in its initial stages for now, Google has a lot of work to do to get at par with Yelp who are better off in terms of presentation and updating the reviews by the users.
We will have to watch closely to see how Google plans to develop this feature into a sophisticated, yet user friendly feature.