Google + is the new social network that has been introduced by the search engine God that is Google. After the failure of both Google Buzz and Google Wave there is hope that it may be third time lucky!
With Google + users are able to share photos and links with their friends and family by targeting who they want to share with out of their connections. This is what they say differentiates them from Facebook and Twitter. By creating “circles” of friends, family, colleagues etc, users can share funny jokes and day to day updates with friends and family while sharing more professional links to articles with business colleagues.
Currently the website is only accessible to those who have been invited by Google or have been invited by other friends who already have a Google + account. Soon everyone will be able to sign up and this may well be the “sink or swim” moment for the network.
To make things simple I have written a list of the 5 main features Google + has to offer:
1. The “ + “
Google + prides itself on its streamline approach towards sharing online. The web is filled with great content and it is only natural that if you find something interesting then you want to share it with others. Google has described this current process as “Awkward. Even broken” And they aim to fix it! The “+” button has been incorporated into the navigation bar above almost all Google products enabling people to keep track of their notifications without having to go back to the Google + homepage.
One of the main features of Google + is its “circles” feature. According to Google this is the one thing that really makes it stand out from Facebook. When sharing pictures, videos and links on Facebook you can only share them with all your friends. Using circles, you can pick and choose by category who you send information to. Google claim “We found that people already use real-life circles to express themselves, and to share with precisely the right folks.” Thus they brought circles to software!
Google + Sparks enables you to gain information about all your interests (in a very Twitter-esque fashion). Once your interests (for example, films or cooking) have been chosen, a link to them will appear under your profile picture. Whenever you want to know what news there is about your interest, all you need to do is click on the link and it will bring up a page filled with news pictures and links related to that particular interest. At the moment the Sparks feature does not include suggestions from people that the user follows, making it less engaging than was perhaps intended.
Although Google + has been billed to mainly rival the likes of Twitter and Facebook, the “Hangouts” feature appears to be targeting the market that Skype currently occupies. It allows users to bring groups together for a simultaneous video chat. Up to ten friends at a time can join the chat at the simple push of a button. The feature has been built into YouTube, allowing users to all watch a video together in real time.
These days mobile phones are the first place people turn to when they want to share with others when out and about. A mobile phone is almost always with you and almost always online. With the Google + app your mobile can be even more personal and sharing information has never been quicker. Locations can be added to posts and pictures can be instantly uploaded. Using “huddle” everyone in a circle can be messaged simultaneously.
So will Google + take off? And does it really offer us anything we can’t get from Facebook, Twitter and YouTube? As the site becomes accessible to everyone I’m sure that it will take off, but whether it stays afloat for long is another question. If you are the sort of person who just likes to have an account on everything then Google + is definitely for you, but for some of us it may just be another profile to continuously check on and interact with, without any significant benefit being visible.