Google Places for iPhone Offers Better Finding

Google announced Thursday the release of Google Places for iPhone, a combination of Google’s Hotpot and Google Maps that you can use to find restaurants (etc.) near you. This standalone app is effectively an effort to out-Yelp Yelp by offering search results that are ranked and affected by your own ratings and the ratings of your friends.

The app offers searches for restaurants, coffee shops, bars, ATMs, gas stations, hotels, and more. According to Google, Hotpot’s results are significantly tweaked by data based on other restaurants and locations that you have rated. The more you rate, the more accurate your results should be when searching for a location near you.

If you add friends to Hotpot (from a browser, not the app), your results will be further enhanced by ratings from those friends. As you can see in the figure below, you’ll get a one-liner reason from a friend’s review in your results, and those restaurants that are rated higher by your friends will be pushed up on the results list. Conversely, places that your friends have given a poor rating are effectively pushed lower on the results.

Google Places

Google Places

The app also allows users to quickly rate a new place while you’re there by launching the app and tapping the “Rate now” button. Google will use your location to find automagically guess your location and allow you to enter a Hotpot review.

As suggested above, Hotpot is part of Google’s online presence, and is integrated with Google Maps. The new iPhone app released today is merely a dedicated way to access the service from your iPhone, and brings Apple’s smartphone on par with Hotpot access available in Android.

Google Places for iPhone is a free download, and it’s available now from Apple’s App Store.