Google Plus has finally arrived. The much talked about social layer which is aimed almost entirely at taking over Facebook’s monopoly of social networking is now here. Google are still warning of some bugs and glitches that need ironing out and have delayed it’s full release several times. I have a sneaky suspicion however that this periodic rolling out is more of a creation of suspense and publicity than anything else.
Google + will be omnipresent on it’s products, and you may have noticed the familiar grey strip at the top of all Google pages has turned black with many new features to incorporate the search giant’s latest social offering. Some of these features are very similar to those on Facebook such as the notifications tab which similarly lights up when someone likes a post etc. but Google + then starts to diverge from it’s social counterpart.
The main aim of Google + is to allow the user to target or interact with specific groups of friends or acquaintances as opposed to a mass group of all friends, family etc like Facebook. To do this they’ve come up with “Circles +”, a very clever and easy to use method of basically categorising each of your friends into their specific social “circle”. Friends can be included in several different social circles at once and when sharing a post or comment the user can choose which circle of friends they want to share the comment with.
They’ve put a lot of thought and effort into the photo and video tagging aspect of Google + also, incorporating an excellent image editor which allows users to crop and edit their photos with ease. The video chat feature is probably the most exciting aspect of Google +. Users can start a “hangout” which then lets their specific friends circles know they are “hanging out” and are available for video chat. Up to 10 users can join the “hangout” simultaneously and the video switches automatically to whoever is talking at that moment.
With “Sparks”, they’ve supplied a recommendation engine where users can share their interests or links by clicking the +1 button (much like the “Like” button on Facebook). Their aim, according to Vic Gundotra, Google’s senior vice president of social is to make it as simple as possible for users to explore their interests and then to share what they find with their friends.
All in all Google + seems like a very interesting addition to the social networking arena and I will be watching with interest to see how much it can dent Facebook’s stronghold. The way Google have delayed it’s release and by rolling it out in stages seems to be having the desired effect of creating a little muted suspense and anticipation due to it’s artificial scarcity!
Well I’m pleased to tell you the wait is now over! Try it out for yourself and let me know what you think. Thanks for reading.
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