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Google chucks personal ratings to the Hotpot

Yelp, only more creepy

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Google has launched Hotpot, a surprisingly Yelp-like service for collecting ratings of places, which will then use those ratings to personalise your search results.

Google Maps already provides reviews culled from around the web, and submitted by other Google users, but Hotpot goes a little deeper by tailoring its recommendations based on the places that you - and your friends – have rated highly. This of course assumes your friends aren't all busy rating things on Yelp and checking into FourSquare.

Hotpot is integrated with Google Maps for Mobile, the latest version of which comes with an Android widget allowing the user to express an opinion about a place without having to take the time to compose any prose or even run the application. The widget constantly shows the nearest Google Place, and the user can laud or damn the service within two taps. That rating is then used to judge what the user, and his mates, might prefer in future.

The social element of Hotpot is similar to Facebook Places, in that when your mates "like" a place you'll probably like it too, and might be encouraged to check it out. Hotpot takes that one stage further, removing the need for the user to exercise judgement by creating search results based on the ratings of friends. Hotpot isn't limited to "like" either: ratings range from Hate to Love, allowing all the expression of emotion that can be squeezed into a couple of clicks.

If your mates are all Google fans then you'll no doubt want to Buzz them about Hotpot post haste, if you haven't already. But if your social circle is not yet seduced by Google's social-networking side then you probably won't be tempted this time. But don't worry: Google will get you eventually... ®

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