Google has recently launched a beta trial period for a new social networking project, called Google+. It is hoped to be the answer to many disgruntled Facebook users prayers. Facebook has been the most popular social networking tool for a few years, but Google has its eye on the title. As with any innovative, popular industry, the social networking market is teaming with hundreds of brains working to make a product that's better than the best on the market. Will Google+ be that product? It's too early to tell.
Social networking is relatively new concept. In a sense the online community and companies like Myspace, Twitter, Facebook, and Google, are beta testing what connecting with people online means. Google's history with social networking products, such as Google Wave and Google Buzz, isn't terribly impressive. Perhaps the third time will be a charm. The people of the internet will be have their say when it is released for public consumption.
Circles is a great feature that gives users more control over their visibility. From the perspective of the person being added to your circles, the process is quite similar to Facebook's "friending" feature. It is a simple accept or reject. From the user's perspective, however, there is a lot more going on. Users can create custom circles for different levels of sharing online. The standard options are family, friends, acquaintances and following.
The feature is great for categorizing the people within your social network. A big problem a lot of people have with Facebook is that their mothers and grandmothers are reading the same status updates and seeing the same photos, that may really only be intended for their friends. Now you don't have to choose between censoring yourself and rejecting your mom's friend request. It gives users the opportunity to say what they want, and then decide who gets to read it.
Hangouts is a very fun feature that brings more of the human experience, which is sometimes lacking in online interactions. It is a live video chat program. Many people go on social networking sites when they are craving interaction with peers and people they care about. Text only chat can be unsatisfying. Video chat allows people to really connect and have eye contact with other people around the world. This feature certainly sets Google+ apart from its peers, in the human connection department.
When a user decides he or she wants to start a hangout, it is as easy as a click of a button. Clearly Google has our best interests at heart, because when the preview window opens, there is a reminder to check your hair along with the microphone settings. The user can then decide who he or she wants to hangout with, by selecting a circle. Once the hair is perfect, an announcement is sent to the news feed to anyone within the invited circle, that the user is hanging out. The people who are lucky enough to see the announcement have the option to join in the chat and commence the hangout.