Google Eyes Yelp with ‘Hotpot’ Personalized Recommendations

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Google’s new Hotpot service aims to leverage the data the company has on 50 million places of interest around the world to serve you personalized recommendations for businesses in your area. The company bills Hotpot as “a local recommendation engine powered by you and your friends.”

You’ll need to do a little priming first, as Hotpot needs to know what kinds of stuff you’re into in order to make recommendations. I pulled up restaurants in my particular neighborhood of Boston and rated the ones I like and don’t like between one and five stars. When I searched for restaurants in the greater Boston area, Hotpot recommended some to me based on my ratings of what it considers similar restaurants in my neighborhood. It also pulled in businesses that I’ve rated in the past using Google Maps and Google Places. (More on Techland: Google Shows Off Secret New Android Phone)

To add a more personal element, Hotpot will pull in ratings from your friends. You add people from your contacts and if they’ve rated certain places in any particular city, those will show up in your search results.

Hotpot definitely seems like it’s in the early stages, though it shows promise. I only got a few restaurant recommendations in the greater Boston area based on my ratings of ten restaurants in my neighborhood, but the recommendations it made were pretty good.

What’s missing are recommendations for restaurants in other cities based on the restaurants I like in my own city. That’d be nice functionality to have while travelling, for sure, and I’d be surprised if it wasn’t eventually added.

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