Google's latest update to its Android Maps app and its web-based Places tool is a big step into the Yelp-ish ratings-and-reviews realm — just with a focus on algorithms and friends over strangers. Rate anything nearby and Google suggests other things.
Hotpot sees its fullest expression in the latest update to Android's Maps client, which should be available now. When you get started with Hotpot, you'll be asked to give a name for your reviews and pick out any friends who happen to be reviewing local spots too. There's a home screen widget for Android that makes the picking out of local points of interest worth reviewing, though iPhone and other mobile web users can use the Places tool to locate themselves and review too.
Then again, if a full desktop browser is what you've got in front of you, just head to google.com/hotpot and search for something like "restaurants melbourne".
As you review restaurants, churches, hospitals, gift shops and whatever else you visit, Google's recommendation engine is supposed to improve. So too will it know better how you might use your friends' likes and dislikes to point out good stuff. It's a free service from Google, and the mobile team states that an updated iPhone Places app is on its way with tighter Hotpot integration.
Personally Yours on the Go - Personalized Recommendations in Google Maps 4.7 [Official Google Mobile Blog]