Over the last couple of weeks, you may have heard the buzz about Google +, the search giants third attempt at social networking. After disaster becoming the size of Google itself with Buzz and Wave, Google is determined to take on Facebook afresh. And this time, it seems, they have made a good start. As of now at least!
Adding to Google’s might
According to Vic Gundotra and Bradley Horowitz, creators of the new platform, Google+ is more than a social product, or even a social strategy, it’s an extension of Google itself. Hence, ‘Plus’! It is ‘Plus’ because it takes products from Google and makes them better. And that is the key element of Google +. Google already had some of the best platforms online, right from video sharing site (YouTube), photo sharing site (Picasa), and blogging network (Blogger) to video chat facility and unique signing facility of Gmail, which ironically even Facebook has been using for ever.
With Google +, Google wants to replicate our true social structure online. Many may say that Facebook is exactly this but there is a big difference, or so Google would want us to believe. While on Facebook, sharing can be limited, in essence, when you post a comment it goes out to the world. According to Google, that is not true replication of our communication system, where we are communicating with certain groups meaning our topics are restricted from group to group. This is the base difference between Google + and Facebook.
The Circle Advantage
Google+ is built from the ground up around the concept of sharing material with groups of people, called “Circles.” It’s through Circles that users select and organize contacts into groups for optimal sharing. Unlike Facebook, You simply select people from a list of recommended contacts (populated from your Gmail and/or Google Contacts) and drag them into Circles you designate. Once done, you can share anything across all of Google’s service by clicking on the new Google menu bar that will sit atop all the platforms of Google.
Grouping friends in to Circles
Sparking up some fun
One thing that no one can beat Google at is searching for content that you would want or are interested in. The search giant has taken the effort to categorize things on web in to sub heads. When you click on one of the sub heads, you will find a host of links to the related topic. You can read the same and/or share it with your groups. Google believes that, things which are a common interest can "Spark" conversation and this exactly what Sparks does. Google has rightly said that it’s not a search engine or an extension of the same but a sharing engine. Also “Featured interests” area could well become the revenue source for Google +.
Spark up a conversation
Adding some stream
Information appears in your “Stream,” which is akin to Facebook’s news feed. At the top of your stream is a sharing box. Actually two sharing boxes. First, in the navigation bar there’s a “Share” area to the right side. Second, in the Stream itself, there’s a longer box, where you can enter a status update or use icons to upload and share photo and videos. You can also share links or your location, if you’ve allowed Google to track that for you. On mobile devices, you can select from a drop-down of nearby places to check-in.
Adding Stream Through Stream Box
Adding Stream through Share Box
Google Hangout, amongst all the features given to Google +, is the stand out feature and one that can really push people to switch from Facebook to Google +. The key is to get several people all involved casually, rather than to barge in with a solitary invite. It is like finding people who are already there for talking rather than dropping in uninvited. Hence the name Hangout! It is like the real world hangout where people gather to talk. If you’re chatting with a Circle, everyone else in that Circle will get an alert to come hang out. This works for up to 10 people. And seeing it in action is a bit magical. The Google+ system is smart enough to focus on who is controlling the conversation at any point of time. This makes the conversation like a real world chat. It is as if the producer of the show knows which camera to switch to at the right time.
Google Hangout Screen
Another feature of Google+ is called “Huddle”. It’s essentially a group messaging app that works across Android, iPhone, and SMS to allow you to communicate with the people in certain Circles. In fact the Android world gets added benefit of one touch sharing on plus, with applications that let you share everything from photos to your game screens.
Google Huddle Feature
Apart from these highlighted features, there are many other utilities that Google + has, which are similar to any other social networking site. Like sharing photos through albums, adding links to your posts, videos, putting your location and giving thumbs up to a post you fancy by +1 button and the standard Google chat. But all these are done with small Google add on. Like in your albums, when you roll you mouse over an album, the photos fan out to show more. Also, an important feature being tested is tagging approvals.
Google Touch to Plus
There are many such little features that the early adopters of Google + are discovering every day. For some time that would be a fun task. This would give Google enough time to get the brand pages up and about, which as of now, is not allowed on Google +. A non individual profiles are not allowed by Google. Only MTV and Ford have profiles on Google + because they are their development partners, which shows, there is some loops that Google is thinking about for Brands as well.