After months of rumor and speculation
, Google has unveiled their new social networking service, Google+
. This new venture addresses some of the issues and shortcomings of the failed Google Wave
. At the moment, it’s only available for select users, but hopefully it will be ready for the general public in the near future. Google+ is going to “make sharing online more like sharing in real life”.
Here’s a quick look at some of the features that help to distinguish Google+ from Facebook.
Circles allows you to sort friends, family and coworkers into different groupings that more accurately reflect the boundaries that exist in real life. The ability to sort friends, family and coworkers is a definite plus that addresses the generic “friends” group that exists on Facebook. I love how the drag and drop interface is intuitive and very easy to use. It would be nice if a person could be sorted in more than one circle though – maybe Nana is also part of my ski crew?
Hangouts is touted as “the Unplanned meet-up comes to the web for the first time”. It brings video conferencing to a social network and allows you to live chat with your friends.
Instant Upload transfers pictures and video from your smartphone to a private online album. This is sheer brilliance and I wish it were available to use right now. My smartphone has become my default camera, but I rarely take the time to transfer the pictures off of it. Right now I have over 200 photos on my phone (we just got a new puppy – lots of photo ops), and I hate to think what would happen if I lost my phone. The ability to have my pictures and videos automatically uploaded to a private album that I can then easily share with specific “Circles” of friends would be amazing. (only available for Android devices (2.1+) right now)
Sparks leverages the power of the Google search algorithm and Google +1 to predict what it thinks you like. As you add interests, Google will stream similar stories or videos to your newsfeed.
This service lets you text a group of friends at the same time, rather than having to IM everyone individually. My thumbs can feel the relief already. Once again, I wish I could use this particular feature right now.
It will be interesting to see what sort of social marketing opportunities arise with Google+. Will merchants be able to have their own “Pages”, similar to Facebook? Will the average consumer choose to keep their Google+ account for strictly non-business/shopping related activities? With an increase in the number of companies exploring f-commerce
options (i.e. selling on Facebook), will Google have a similar offering?
The question remains as to whether Google will be able to convert existing Facebook users, but Google+ certainly has a number of very attractive features. Enhanced privacy controls and some unique functionality make me eager to sign up for Google+.