Just checked out the new Google Places Iphone App – “now with Hotpot!”.  It’s a nice enough local reviews service

The UI is simple and looks good.

Besides being able to review a business, which is nothing new these days, perhaps the biggest thing the app has going for it is the aggregation of all of the other review sites’ reviews.

It’s not clear to me that sifting through 50 reviews from various sites on a Google Places App is any better than sifting through 50 reviews on a Yelp App, but users may perceive a benefit from having multiple sources.

That said, there’s nothing fun about this app yet.  I am sure they will roll out check-ins and I don’t have a big network on HotPot yet so I am not getting any social recommendations.

I imagine this will get some trial because it’s a Google App, but I think they’ll need to come up with something more than just a me-too experience to get this to be people’s go-to local reviews app.  They are also suffer from the too-many-Google-iPhone-Apps problem.  I already have a Google Voice Search App, Google Maps App and I am sure there are more.  I think they’d have a better chance at adoption if all of these were in a single App.

Still I would keep an eye on this.  I imagine Google is going to throw everything including the kitchen sink at local.

Some other pieces on the new app at Google LatLonTechCrunch, and SearchEngineLand

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10 Response Comments

  • Gary  January 12, 2011 at 12:40 pm

    I think another big problem Google faces is their social graph. Hotpot has social elements baked right in, but how many people have their social graph inside of Google? I know I don’t. A lot of people have that locked within Facebook, and there’s no way that data is getting out. Chances of seeing a FB Connect button on Google apps – 0%

  • Malcolm Lewis  January 12, 2011 at 1:56 pm

    None of Google’s UIs are fun. They need to hire a designer. All their stuff looks/feels distinctly dated and clunky to me these days.

    I’m still not sure why Google is focusing on explicit relationships for their recommendations. They’d be better off taking an algorithmic approach that crawls the web to find similar users and generate “people like me like…” recommendations. Their current approach plays to their weakness (nobody is friending anyone on a Google site) whereas the algo approach plays to their strengths.

  • Andrew Shotland  January 12, 2011 at 2:01 pm

    It’s hard for robots to be fun

  • Malcolm Lewis  January 12, 2011 at 2:06 pm

    I thought HAL was kinda playful.

  • Gina  January 12, 2011 at 2:17 pm

    I agree with Malcolm, the UI definitely needs a lipstick job 🙂 with that said, the way google’s going after local I’m guessing this app will do nothing but evolve, especially if hotpot catches on.

  • Lee  January 13, 2011 at 8:19 am

    i agree with malcom that google’s design is no fun, but that’s their thing – it’s all about utility. as a ux guy myself, i think what will make or break this app is it’s usefulness. i’m willing to give it a try because it’s google, but they’ll need to quickly start adding more value to make it stick.

  • Nick Stamoulis  January 13, 2011 at 11:08 am

    I am going to jump on in and give this a try, first I have heard of it, so I am curious to test it out a bit. I bet that Google will add some “fun” to it..let’s not give up hope.

  • Mike D. Merrill  January 13, 2011 at 4:25 pm

    I think the UI makes it easy for the every day user to feel inclined to use. Does help stress the importance of a complete Place Page for the SMB as well. To Gary’s point, not having the social graph will affect it’s mass adoption. Although, they do have every email address I have in Gmail.


  • Sean  January 14, 2011 at 1:20 pm

    @MalcolmLewis has a really good point, Google is at a slight disadvantage when they just brand everything as Google “XYZ”

  • Michael  January 14, 2011 at 7:59 pm

    Ah Google, the Goliath of search engines. I personally don’t like Google because I feel they have the weight to push around who they want and they do it. I tried adwords for a short time and my account was terminated without any warning or explanation. I’m not impressed by anthing that google does because they know they are big and they’ve forgotten about the little man.