Google has launched an updated version of Google Maps for Android. The key new feature is a recommendation engine based on Google’s new Hotpot service.
Here’s how it works. As you use Google Maps to find places (such as restaurants, coffee shops, stores, hotels, and so on), you can now rate places using a new home screen widget. As you rate places, Google will get a sense of your preferences and start offering you personalized results.
Hotpot takes things a step further by letting you share your recommendations with your friends, and vice versa. As you add friends, their recommendations ill start to show up in your search results.
I’m not really all that impressed with the home screen widget, which shows you a list of all sorts of nearby places. If you’re in an area that’s densely packed with stores, restaurants, and other establishments, it can take a while to find the one you actually want to rate using the drop-down list, although you can always resort to searching.
While the new features are only available for Android users today, Google plans to roll out a Places app for iPhone soon which will allow users to rate places and get recommendations. iPhone users can also use the Google web app in their browser.
Google Maps 4.7 is available as a free download from the Android Market and supports Android 1.6 and up.