On June 28th Google will release(to limited personnel) their answer to Facebook: Google+ (pronounced Google Plus). Google has tried before to put their hat into the social network ring before with Google Buzz, and failed miserably. This time, however, Google seems to have thoroughly thought their new network idea through.
Circles+ is Google’s answer to how you become friends with people and how you organize them. While you will still have friend tabs, the one change that Google made is how you organize them. Using Circles+ you can now drag and drop friends into different social circles. You can create circles by genre i.e. classmates, co-workers, clubs, family, and any group you wish to create. By simply dragging and dropping your friend into these circles, one now has the ability to better organize their friends, instead of just listing them. Another great feature of Circles is how you add and remove friends through the new HTML 5 format. Instead of the old pop-up tab asking you whether or not you want to add/remove a friend, there are now animations. For instance when you remove a friend, a puff a smoke animation will happen over the friend’s tab. When you remove a circle, it will roll off the screen. These new features involved with Circles+ gives Google+ a new and more involved feel with the "friending" format.
Google+Sparks is a new recommendation engine that will help users find content divided by interest. This will include videos, articles, photos, and other items that will be grouped by interest. This new algorithmic system uses information provided by Google Search and what is being marked as interesting through Google+ and the Google +1 button. This new and innovative way of finding fun and interesting content is Google’s answer to Twitter by becoming and information network. By connecting people though their interests, Sparks creates a whole new ball game for the social network idea.
Google+Stream is where people will share their content such as photos and videos. This is very simular to Facebook’s News Feed. Users will also be able to see what their friends are sharing here. The name is superb for what it is, but isn’t an innovation from Facebook’s News Feed. Worth mentioning though, is the way you are able to edit your content such as photos and multimedia. Google+ has a full blown image editor that allows you to edit your content fairly sophisticated manner. While you can crop images on Facebook, you can not fully edit your images without an outside program. This is another idea from Google that is creative in its own right.
This is the new idea from Google that may help them break away from Facebook. Google+Hangout is a video chat room geared towards group chatting. This is an idea that hasn’t been explored before. By creating a ‘hangout’, a user is put into a chat room alone, at the same time this is happening a message goes out to your social circles telling them that you are ‘hanging out’. A great feature of the hangout idea is instead of a chat screen on every users screen, the application will quickly change over to whomever is speaking at the moment. This makes it feel like your more in a real-time chat rather than online. Users can have up to 10 people in the ‘hangout’ and for those who want to get in can be put on a waiting list. This feature is sure to spark some serious interest to those who use social networks.
In the end Google has really stepped up from their first attempt at a social network in Buzz. Buzz was most likely a failed attempt because Google just attached it to the millions of Gmail accounts, and thus never really caught on. While some things about Google+ are far from Facebook, some of their new ideas are really great. Innovations like the +Hangout and +Circles with animations could really make Google+ a competitor to the Zuckerberg empire that is Facebook.