Google Plus, more of the same, but better!
Earlier last week Google unveiled it’s new super top secret social network Google+ (plus). This latest project is still in limited release and has already seen it’s share of ups and downs due to an amazing amount of interest. Essentially Google+ is the search engine giants answer to Facebook and other social platforms. But it’s more than just a way to let your friends know you are drinking a cold one at Sockeye Brewpub or to share the latest joke. The search giant’s new social project will be omnipresent on its products, allowing for some of the easiest user integration we’ve yet to see and providing a huge potential for the platform to grow throughout Googles many other product. This ease of use and integration into what many people are already familiar with may give Google a serious leg up in the social networking world.
Islands in the Stream
Google+ features a Stream, basically just like Facebook News Feed, allowing users to share photos, videos, links or their location with friends…but better! You see, the focus of this social project is not on sharing with a mass group of friends, but on targeted sharing with your various social groups.
To do this, Google uses a system called Circles. Circles are an extremely easy way to add people to specific groups. Rather than the clunky or difficult ways other networks have done this with Google+ it’s as easy as dragging and dropping, or clicking an option when you accept a new persons friend request. Circles make it easy to choose exactly who you want to share with any time you post an update – an invaluable tool as our social personas collect more and more followers.
You can even easily create your own Circles to make categorizing your connections even easier.
Photos and More
Google+ has very slick photo abilities as well. The photo tab takes a user to all of the photos he or she has shared, as well as the ones he or she is tagged in. But there’s more than just photo tagging – Google+ includes a variety of image options, privacy options, and sharing features.
Facebook tried to jump the gun with their video chat – ironically enough the release of which was majorly overshadowed by Google+ launching just a few days later. As video continues to become a more and more prevalent tool the ability to hold live real time video conferences, meetings, and chat sessions may very well become “the next big thing”.
Beyond this Google+ also has some innovative and imaginative ways of Sharing content and even announcing events. To encourage easy sharing, Google has added a “recommendation engine” for finding content you are interested in. Called Google+ Sparks,it is a collection of news, videos, photos and other content grouped by interest. For example, the “Music” spark will have a listing of recent and relevant content for that topic.
Google+ allows users to create “Hang Outs”. Essentially creating their own instant “check-in” locations for events or places they are gathering. Similar to the way foursquare and other networks allow you to “check-in” to already established/verified locations, Google+’s Hang Outs let users create these wherever they are, on the fly.
The Next Social Network?
No matter what Google may claim, Google+ is without a doubt their answer to Facebook but being the giant of search engines doesn’t buy you a free ride in the social networking world – and not all of Googles past enterprises have been a success. Remember Orkut? Yeah, Google hopes nobody else does either. Google is just dipping it’s toes into the social arena at this point but in some ways their functionality alone is already a HUGE improvement over other available networks. Having only been using this new platform for a short time it is hard to judge, but already I’ve started to feel like I am playing with Tonka trucks every time I login to Facebook now. With Google+ whispering rumors of a “business profile” ability that is yet to come to the Google+ platform the leader in search engines may soon be giving everyone in the social networking world a real run for their money.