Since the announcement yesterday, the Internet has been buzzing with the introduction of Google’s latest foray into the social sphere: Google+. Touted by many as one of the company’s most ambitious projects to date, notable features of this limited (for now) release have many speculating whether Google+ will have what it takes to overcome earlier attempts (like Buzz and Wave) to gain a lasting foothold in the social space:
With privacy and online reputation management a growing concern across all types of social media users, Circles introduces a new way to organize contacts into groups in order to give users more control over how they share content - and with whom. As Steven Levy at Wired noted: “With colorful animations, drag-and-drop magic and whimsical interface touches, Circles looks more like a classic Apple program than the typically bland Google app. That’s no surprise since the key interface designer was legendary software artist Andy Herzfeld.”
While Circles are similar to the way social network giant Facebook offers friends lists, a key differentiator here is that people you include in a particular Circle don’t have to be Google+ users. Whereas friends lists on Facebook can only include other Facebook users, a simple email address is all you need to share specific content with someone in Google+. As Marshall Kirkpatrick at ReadWriteWeb reported after spending some hours in Google+, “... the curation of interesting topical Circles and then subscription to other peoples’ Circles has huge potential.”
Somewhere between a RSS reader and the kind of user-generated news feed found on social networks, Sparks are Internet-derived icebreakers that help you “strike up a conversation.” Whether the content you want to share or comment on is articles, photos, videos or something else, the functionality of sparks focuses on making finding and sharing content seamless and easy.
Hangouts & Huddles
Pitched as an evolution of traditional instant messaging or scheduled video chats, Hangouts are group chatrooms where everyone can participate with webcams. According to Wired, this was one feature of Google+ that CEO Larry Page would even participate in himself. “He would sometimes open a hangout area and leave it open to the first few Googlers who would be quick enough to join – lucky employees who had the rare opportunity to informally chatter with the otherwise Cloistered CEO.”
Google describes Huddle as a “group messaging experience” built for mobile devices. And with other built-in features like adding location markers in correspondence, and Instant Upload (where Android-enabled devices can automatically sync mobile photos to a private album), Google+ definitely seems to be tailoring many of its features toward the mobile experience.
What do you think?
After Google Buzz and Google Wave failed to gain the traction many had hoped for, several experts are pointing out how some of the strongest elements from each of these projects are finding a new home with Google+. Do you think this ambitious project will take off the way Buzz and Wave never did? Will you migrate your social identity and activities from a social network like Facebook to Google+ once it becomes widely available? Why or why not? Share your thoughts in a comment!
See what other sites are saying about Google+: