In the past I’ve described Google’s Hotpot service as an “evolution to places.” This moniker has been both very accurate and somewhat misleading; Hotpot and Places were different services that, while they shared a huge portion of the same territory, existed independently. At least, that was the case until a recent Google announcement that revealed Hotpot is merging fully with Places.
This is hardly surprising to those who paid attention Hotpot’s development. After all, you couldn’t visit a Google Places territory without seeing the Hotpot logo and features tagged on. Combining product teams and consolidating future development efforts is entirely rational. However, that doesn’t mean the change is a sum zero when it comes to visible alterations.
Here are some of the changes users will note thanks to the merge:
- Hotpot, including the standalone phone application and the site itself, will now redirect or re-brand to Places; apps and other features not originally covered by places will likely continue development, but will do so under the Places name.
- The Places interface has been reorganized. Users will find Hotpot ratings on the site, and all community features of Hotpot will continue, but the interface is being restructured to accommodate both Places and Hotpot. This means, among other changes, that our initial version pushing rating down further on the page.
- All information resources (such as the Hotpot blog) will now be rolled into Places.
While the decision to combine these services is highly logical, the timing does beg some important questions. After all, Marissa Mayer, previously the SVP of Local and the authority on the Hotpot project, is no longer a part of the upper-management tier at Google. This change happened on April 4th when Larry Page took the reigns and re-structured the core of Google’s management. While it may be that the big shift in Hotpot’s presentation is purely coincidental, the fact that it occurred less than a week after the new management team was announced is, rightfully, raising some eyebrows.
[via the Google Places Blog]