The Google+ Project – What can it offer you?
Google+, dubbed a ‘project’ rather than a product, is aimed at making Google as a whole more social, as opposed to being an individual social networking site. Vic Gundotra, the senior vice president, who oversees Googles’ social elements has explained “It’s ‘plus’ because it takes products from Google and makes them better and ‘project’ because it’s an ongoing set of products.”
To help explain the many features of their latest social attempt Google has created a series of videos showcasing them. These videos focus on the unique features of Google+ allowing it to stand as it’s own entity rather than a rival to Facebook.
So let’s take a look at these features…
Like current social networking sites, Google+ will help you connect with your friends, family and other contacts, but what makes it different is the way it does it. Googles’ inspiration seems to be creating a more natural way of interacting online, based on how we interact with each other in the real world. When adding your friends you can add them into specific groups know as ‘Circles’, this works by the user simply dragging and dropping people into different types of circles. The user can than choose what they share with whom. This mimics how we interact with people in real life as instead of broadcasting everything to everyone we can share certain things with certain people. An example would be sharing pictures from a messy night out with your ‘Friends’ circle only, resulting in your ‘Work’ and ‘Family’ circles being completely unaware of the nights events. Another benefit of this system is that you can also select which feed you are viewing, so if you only wanted to see updates from your family you can select the ‘Family’ Circle feed.
The Sparks feature, although unique to social media, is not really anything new. Similar to Google Alerts it lets you follow topics of interest, you can either browse suggestions or set up your own searches. The search results are supposed to be chosen by how shareable it’s content is, things people are already clicking on and how visual the images are. You are then able to share the information with which ever circle you would like.
Hangout is a great and relatively different to what social media networks currently offer. Hangout is essentially a video chat feature that allows up to 10 different people to interact with each other, simple right? Not as simple as you would have thought. The technology behind this seemingly basic feature is impressive. The main image in the feature will change automatically depending on who is talking, just like in real life where you would look at the person talking. This is another example of how Google+ is taking inspiration from real life interaction. You can also play videos for everyone to watch.
When a user launches a ‘Hangout’ it will show up on their friends feeds and as people join it the notification will automatically update to show participants. Google believe that as this number goes up more people will be inclined to join. As previously stated only 10 people can join, but should one leave another person can replace them.
Instant Upload and Huddle
These mobile features are currently only available to Android users with a vision to expand to other phones at a later date. Instant upload automatically uploads the pictures you take on your Android phone to a private album on Google+ making it easier to share images with your different Circles. Huddle is the equivalent to Hangout on your mobile as it is a group text chat service. This allows you to chat with several people at once instead of having the same conversation several times with different people 1-2-1.
What do you think of these features? Could Google finally have a social success on its hands?