Google has added a new feature that allows web users to contribute their own movie and television reviews right within Google search results - a step towards the possible implementation of Google's own Rotten Tomatoes or IMDB-like reviews service. But before you get too excited about this, be aware that the feature is currently only available in India.
The addition was first spotted by the blog Android Police, which noted that the search giant had last year introduced like and dislike buttons on movie and TV shows' results cards.
Google confirmed to us the new feature is live, but clarified it was something that's only available on web, mobile, and the Google app in India, in the English language, for the time being.
The user-submitted reviews are also automatically filtered for any inappropriate content, Google says, and they can be flagged by individual users if something inappropriate manages gets through Google's system.
Above: screenshots of movie reviews, credit: Android Police
After the user leaves the review and submits it, the reviews themselves will then appear in the Knowledge Panel for various TV shows and movies at the top of the search results on Google.in.
The feature is another example of Google opening up Google Search results to include user-generated content. For instance, Google this summer introduced a feature called "Posts on Google" that allows local businesses the ability to publish their events, products and services directly to Google Search. Celebrities, sports teams, sports leagues, movie studios and museums can also use this feature.
However, Google tells us the new movie and TV show reviews feature is not using the same technology as Posts on Google.
Rather, it's more closely related to the experience you see for restaurant reviews, also contributed by users. When you click on a restaurant in Google's Knowledge Panel, you're taken to a Maps page with details like store hours, location, busy times, and critics reviews. Here, you'll see other reviews contributed by Google users at the bottom.
In that case, the crowdsourced reviews are referred to as "Google reviews," and they are summarized as an aggregate star rating at the top of the business's Maps listing as well. (e.g. "4.0 stars 512 Google reviews").
In the TV show and movie listings product, they are instead referred to as "Audience reviews."
Google declined to comment on its plans to expand its new reviews product beyond the Indian market. But if it did so, it would be another notable attack on crowdsourced user review services - similar to how Google's business reviews became a viable alternative to Yelp reviews over the years.
The feature also arrives at a time when Amazon-owned IMDB is distancing itself from its more social elements. For example, IMDB closed down its comments section this year, saying they no longer provided a positive and useful experience. That leaves some more room in the market for Google to step in and cater to those who want to express their opinions on entertainment matters. If successful, Google could do the same for other categories as well, like books, podcasts, albums, and more, if it chose to.