Google+ is on fire with praises pouring in for its new approach to social networking.
An insane demand for Google+ has forced the Internet search engine giant to suspend Google+ invites. Google+ has even caught the attention of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, who reportedly has opened an account. Google+, undoubtedly, is on fire but will it burn Facebook?
Users who first heard of Google+ may recall the company's previously failed project called Buzz. Some assume the next attempt will be close to being another Facebook carbon copy. An examination of Google+ will throw up some features that are similar to those found in Facebook.
For instance, Questions & Answers feature in Google+ enables users to ask and answer each other's questions within their social network. The same feature is there in Facebook.
The 'Likes' button is also a staple feature in Facebook. Google mimics this with its own version called +1.
Google+ also reported plans to integrate games into the website, following the successful partnership between Facebook and Zynga.
Besides these similarities, Google+ makes a grand attempt to take social networking to a new level by playing on its strengths.
According to the search engine giant's official blog, the new Google+ philosophy tends to counter Facebook's 'sloppy,' 'scary,' and 'insensitive' approach to social networking. However, with Google+ entering the social networking territory again, Facebook will find solutions in protecting its current success and penetrate into Google's forte of online search.
In a way, the two tech giants are trying out each other's area of strength. Google, which is the undisputed online search juggernaut, revised its strategy to plunge into the social network scene while Facebook is looking to ramp up its own search platform within their over 700 million user network.
Looking at the new features on Google+, the overall experience was described as fun and addictive. The new Circles feature on Google+ gives users the ability to customize their social network experience in flexible ways to organize friends and other contacts.
Borrowing Twitter's concept, users can choose to follow or not follow friends and vice versa. This approach is an improvement from Facebook's privacy controls, as well as Buzz, and prevents friends from blasting info to everyone on their list.
Users can drag and drop people into specified Circles. It may take some time to organize and decide who belongs in which Circle, but the effort is rewarding as users can conveniently later share posts with their specified friends or choose to share with everyone.
Google has also connected Google+ with Gmail and produced an update stream that shows the latest photos and conversations from fellow Google+ users.
The Hangout video conferencing feature has given Google+ the most buzz due to its easy to use interface and zippy functionality. Oh, and also it's free. Hangout allows users to gather for video conferences and smoothly allows all to speak at once, with the loudest person taking center spot. Each session can accompany up to 10 users, but Google is looking into expanding that number for business enterprise services. The video chat function is not new but Google puts a social element to it allowing anyone to pop into video sessions if they are enlisted in that Circle of friends. The concept is fun and definitely social.
If you like news, then the Sparks feature could be one to check out as Google has implemented its search function for finding contents to share. Sparks is an enhanced version of Google News but with social features integrate into it. Users can set news topics and if they see anything of interest, Sparks allows them to easily share it publically with everyone or within specified Circle of friends. It consistently follows Google+'s theme of customizing and organizing to fit your own desired experience. We will, however, have to wait and see if the search will be consistently utilized in other features on Google+.
Among the current features, potential offerings may be looming as Google's ownership of services such as Picasa, YouTube, Blogger, Android, and AdSense open the floor to endless possibilities. Google+ is currently working to enhance Picasa's photo sharing and tagging capabilities by tying them to the social network. Users signed into Google+ are already awarded with unlimited storage for photos and videos. The photo tagging function is connected to Circles which allow options for manual approval of photo tags.
As mentioned previously, Google+ will look to get their feet wet in the social games category by offering more reasons for users to stay onto their website. Companies like Zynga and their partnership with Facebook have been a massive success especially with the hit game Farmville and recent celebrity collaborations for GagaVille. Zynga raked in $235.4 million of revenue for 2011 and Google wants a piece of the action knowing Zynga's online gamers spend 2 billion minutes online every day.
Lastly, exciting rumors about Google's potential purchase of Hulu could elevate Google+'s offerings for watching TV shows and movies. Hulu's popularity and services may give Google TV and YouTube a boost with Google+ tying them all together.
Thus far, Google has been labeling Google+ as a project and plans to roll it out after more trial periods. Despite its limited launch, users have been heading to Ebay to buy their way into Google's latest social network. Meanwhile, Facebook plans to launch something awesome on Wednesday and one wonders whether it will be something that will slow down the blistering pace of Google+.