Finally, online social networking is going to be not only about Facebook: The Google+ project, now available for testing, is Google's newly introduced way to connect with people online.
Google's timing for introducing a fresh experience in online social networking is impeccable. Two weeks ago, it was reported that Facebook was losing share in North America. If 2008 saw Facebook growing beyond industry expectations, 2011 is abuzz that saturated markets like the U.S. and Canada might be ready for something different and new.
Top 5 features of Google+
Google's new project does look promising, with certain novel features. One among the features that offer a fresh experience to online socializing is the Hangout group video chat. Introducing the project, Google's blog says that online communication tools (such as instant messaging and video calling) are annoying because invariably a user has to ping someone to strike up a conversation, while you are not sure if the other person is interested in talking to you at the moment. They're also really awkward. When someone doesn't respond, you don't know if they're just not there, or just not interested.
Google says the Hangout feature is similar to the effortless real-world experience of entering a pub and hanging out with friends, which doesn't require someone to come forward and ask the most awkward question to a group, So shall we hang out? Google seems to bring back the subtlety and substance of real-world interactions lost in the rigidness of our online tools.
Social networking sites can make everyone your friend, including parents, distant relatives, grandparents and the worst of all, bosses. While you might have almost nothing to share with your boss, that single connection can stop you from posting certain things or uploading certain photographs. +Circles seem to be tackling the trickiest aspect of befriending people over the Internet. People in fact share selectively all the time with their circles, says Google. +Circles allows users to share selectively by carefully choosing people to form different circles. This means a photograph shared among a particular circle will not be available for viewing for people from other circles, even though they will be members of your larger social circle.
The +Mobile feature allows users to seamlessly upload photos from any device. While you're snapping pictures, and with your permission, Google+ adds your photos to a private album in the cloud. This way they're always available across your devices-ready to share as you see fit, says Google.
Google+ will also offer a feature somewhat akin to Twitter. +Sparks will deliver a feed of highly contagious content from across the Internet. On any topic you want, in over 40 languages, says Google. Users can add their interests, and they will always have something to watch, read and share -- with just the right circle of friends, claims Google.
+Huddle is a real-time, group-messaging feature which helps coordinate with friends and family to catch up with everyone's ever-changing plans. Phone calls and text messages can work in a pinch, but they're not quite right for getting the gang together, says Google.
Google+ is available on Android Market and the mobile Web, and is coming soon to the App Store.