Since Facebook's launch in 2004, it has
established itself as an unrivaled social networking superpower. No one has
been able to match its broad audience and number of features, but now, Google
will give it a shot with a new project called Google+.
Google made the argument that existing online
interactions are awkward and needs a "fix." For instance, in current
instant messaging systems, someone may seem available on the list, but when you
actually message them and they don't respond, you're not sure if they're away
or not interested. Also, Google made mention that users mainly want to connect
with certain people at certain times, but current social networking systems put
everything out there at once and makes everything you say a "public
these issues, Google has created Google+ which offers four key features
that were created specifically for the user: Circles, Sparks, Hangouts, and
users to create multiple categories of family and friends, each within their
separate circle. For instance, one circle can be the family circle, another can
be best friends, another can be the basketball team you play on, and so on.
This allows the user to share what they want with whom they want instead of
sharing everything across the board.
Sparks is an
online sharing engine that allows users in certain circles to share information
based on their interests. For instance, if you have a circle of friends that
are into comic books, Sparks provides relevant articles, videos and photos that
give you and your circle of comic book-loving friends something to discuss and
enjoy together. It allows you to "spark" a conversation. It also
filters and delivers the most "contagious" content on the web, so the
need for time-consuming searches is eliminated.
Google+'s version of instant chat, but is a face-to-face chat instead. Google
claims that instant messaging is too intrusive, and that it always disrupts
someone in the middle of something. But with Hangouts, users can partake in
casual meet-ups in a live multi-person video whenever they have some free time,
which lets other users know that you're really there (not idle) and interested
in hanging out.
aimed to allow users to communicate on the move. Features offered in Google+'s
mobile realm are ways of marking your current location, an "Instant
Upload" feature that stores photos from your phone in the cloud and allows
you to decide if you want to share them on the web, and a "Huddle"
feature that makes it easy for a user to use group messaging to get a group of
friends together or exchange information.
Google+ was built from the ground up to revolve
around the user, and to revolutionize the social networking experience by
making it more similar to how we actually communicate. Google is only calling
it a project for now, and while it seems interesting enough, only time will
tell if it can stand up to Facebook's level.
For instance, Facebook already has some of the
features offered above, such as Facebook's Lists and Groups that acts much like
Google+'s Circles. Yet Google+'s Circles offers an easy drag and drop feature
that may prevail over Facebook's system. In addition, Facebook has pages of
interest that users can "like" and share information regarding that
topic on that page, but Facebook's pages can have thousands of users that you
do not know associated with that interest page, where Google+'s Sparks allows
topics to be discussed among you and your circle alone.
Of course, both networking systems have a mobile
setup and video chats. They also look very much alike, according to the
screenshot Business Insider provided after being
invited to the new field trial.
Google+ is available on the Android Market and the
mobile web starting today, and will be available on the App Store soon. Right
now, Google is conducting a field trial (hence why its called a project right
now) where users can use the new features and let Google know what they think
needs to be changed.