Google Plus is an attempt by Google to create a strong presence in the social networking market. Having been unveiled this week Google has found a way to package together their existing online properties, such as: Gmail, Google Analytics, and the +1 Button, with their new social networking platform. Google+, their latest innovation, was built with increased user customization in mind.
Google+ seeks to differentiate itself from Facebook in the way users are able to share their information. Instead of broadcasting to your entire contact (by default), Google+ has implemented what they refer to as “Circles+”. Circles+ gives users the ability to drag-and-drop people on their contact list into various social realms. This allows status updates that are of a more sensitive nature to only be shared and viewed by close friends and family. This is achieved through an HTML5 system interface.
For example, someone interested in golf may want to announce his performance on the links to those who share that interest. Users can develop a “Golf Friends” social circle to see and interact with the specific post. Circles+ gives users the ability to create as many social circles as needed to accommodate their interests.
“Hangouts” is another feature of Google+. Google “Hangouts” implements video chat in a social atmosphere. The concept behind Hangouts comes from real life. Google has crafted a platform that allows users to interact, in real-time, with friends and family via video. A user starts off by logging into their Google account and creating a virtual avenue to interact with their friends. As friends notice your presence they can choose to also join your hangout or create one of their own. Hangouts are an attempt to mirror the kind of interactions shared with family and friends. For example, you run into a friend or family member at a shopping center. Hangouts mimic the decision to walk over and “hangout” with them online. Unlike standard video conference applications where all participants are shown in different windows, Hangouts displays the video of the person speaking and will alternate the video as different people join the conversation.
Google+ Sparks is their attempt at taking sharing to a whole new level. By taking advantage of Google’s own search algorithm (as well as their +1 button), Sparks will generate recommendations based on any topic one chooses. This is Google’s way of integrating the search for relevant content with sharing of content.
With Facebook labeled as the prominent social media network, will Google be able to attract current Facebook users to their new innovative platform? Google has experienced trouble with the social network market in the past. Remember Google Buzz? Many will find the answer to this question being “no”. It is obvious, that Google+ is a full-fledged attempt to win over users of other social media networks. With an impressive set of features, will Google+ become the “next best thing” or will competitors simply use these features as the foundation for their own innovations? Regardless of the success or failure of Google’s latest endeavor, it is very clear that the bar for social networking sites has been raised.
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