Why is it so difficult to study a subject that you have no desire to learn about or will ever see again in the near future?
Is there a way to trick your mind into thinking it’s not so bad?
With the current trend of posting your whereabouts to your friends online, applications such as Gowalla, foursquare, facebook Places, Google Latitude, and many more that are available to you, Google Hotpot and Yelp are the two that stand out—to me.
What’s the Difference?
All of these apps allow for “check-ins” to spots on a map via geo-location. From their you can earn badges, pins, titles for checking in to a certain place the most, and various other miscellaneous virtual prizes to gloat to your friends about. The difference between Hotpot and Yelp is that these two services not only allow a user to check in, but they also offer the ability for the user to rate a place they were just at, and review said place. Recently, Yelp has started testing “Yelp Deals” (1-Day sales coupons for its users), something which Hotptot is not doing (yet).
Hotpot is what happens when Google Places and Google Latitude get married and have offspring. Latitude is a check-in service that shows your Google friends and various other social network friends where you are. You can ping them and have them check-in too, if they are nearby, and it [Latitude] can also show you where your friends are at via Google Maps. Places is a consumer’s guide to all things local and near. It allows you to rate and/or review that restaurant you were just at. Your friends will then know which restaurants they should go to and which ones they should avoid. It’s better to find out what type of place you’re about to go to from your friends who have similar tastes then to accept a random 4-star rating of a stranger who didn’t leave a review. Places is not limited to just restaurants, you can also rate and/or review parks, coffee shops, retail stores, and etc. If you own an Android phone guess what, it is already installed. There is no need to go to the Android Market and download. And, surprise surprise, Latitude is already installed on there too. These two applications, Places and Latitude work hand in hand. For example, let’s say that you’re in a new city and you want to find a restaurant to get something to eat, fire up Places, select restaurants, look at all of the available options, read the reviews, choose a spot, go their and check in with Latitude so your friends can see your where, and finally, open Places back up, and fire up Hotpot and leave a rating and a review of said restaurant and you’re done.
“Hotpot is really going places: to a Google search box near you and around the world. In addition to this, Hotpot will be also available in 38 new languages as well that includes French, German, Italian, Spanish, Russian, Chinese and Korean among others. Hotpot also comes seamless integration with Google Maps as well most especially the Google Maps on Android.”
-From Google’s official blog, Hotpot project manager Lior Ron
Watch this video created by Google to see a brief overview of how Hotpot works:
Yelp may not have been the first online recommendation service available to people, but it was—and quite possibly still is—the best service available. The idea of Yelp is that it helps to promote local businesses by getting users to rate and review their experiences at these places. Yelp is centered around the community at large. A local business will register with Yelp and they can advertise if they so choose, and customers will do whatever it is that is offered at these places and rate and review them, and other “Yelpers” will then see this activity and decide whether or not they should venture out to these places themselves. If you have questions about any place listed in Yelp, one thing that you can do that you can’t with Hotpot, is have a conversation with the person who rated and reviewed a place. This type of interaction amongst Yelpers is (in my opinion) why Yelp got to be as big as they are today. About one year ago Yelp introduced check-ins. This is an incentives based type of offering. A Yelper will check-in to a business and—should the business be a willing participant—offer some type of reward for doing so. Even foursquare has a loyalty program for their “mayors”, this type of loyalty program is not yet available with Google Latitude or Hotpot—at least not to my knowledge, if they do have a program please let me know in the comments—but I wouldn’t be surprised that it’s not already in the works. For this loyalty program to work, a local business needs to register with Yelp—for free I might add—and setup advertising, converse with customers, review the trends within the community, and adjust their promotions and marketing accordingly.
With all of the choices available how do you pick one? I have been using everything mentioned above for quite some time now and it is difficult to say which one is the best. They all their strengths and they all have their weaknesses. With anything involving Google, you have a vast amount of information at your fingertips, all you have to do is enter a search query, hit enter, and a lot of information is returned to you. With Yelp, you signup, become a member of a large community that has the same ideas and thoughts as you, and the ratings and reviews appear to be more personal than Google.
Which service do you prefer?