Toward the end of 2010, Google quietly launched a great new review application called HotPot. It's sleek, user friendly and thorough. You can search and rate everything from restaurants to toy stores to parks, all from one easy application.
In order to vote, all you have to do is sign in to Google (so if you're on Gmail right now, you're already logged on). You also must create a username. The voting has a few easy, fun steps to complete, all without leaving the main page. When you select the star rating for the item you'd like to review, the selection flips like a baseball card. Then you can fill in your stats, write a description if you'd like and submit.
In addition to submissions from HotPot, Google aggregates reviews from all over the Web - so instead of nine crummy reviews from one application, you get a true measure of the place's value.
HotPot is built into the Google Places iPhone and Android applications (without the HotPot name attached at all, which is weird) and is every bit as simple as the Web application. Google recently announced Twitter integration of HotPot in its Google Maps for Android app, but Twitter sharing is noticeably absent on the Web-based and iPhone applications.
This is one of Google's best ventures into social applications, and in time I believe it will become the most reputable and popular. So be sure to step up and claim your business to get into the game early.
The Social Path's vote is five stars! Great service, atmosphere and value - but now we're starving.