Obviously Google+ is designed to interact with the recent Google +1 recommendation infrastructure that was rolled out in back in March, but this YouTube video (below) details a whole raft of new features that make up Google+. At it’s core, it’s an attempt by Google to rethink their previous attempts to enter the social networking market. It aims to overcome some of the short-fallings of Facebook by allowing much greater control over how and what gets seen by who when you post. I’ll post more about why this is interesting and what it might mean for the future of social networking.
In an attempt to address the failing of other social networks (especially Facebook!) to easily and effectively give you control over who sees what on your profile, circles is a move to put that kind of management into the core infrastructure of a social network. The idea is simple, in life we think about people contextually: ‘Emma is my best friend’, ‘Nic and I work together’, ‘I know Todd through Twitter, we have some friends and acquaintances in common but we’ve never actually met and I’d like to get to know him better’. These often unarticulated contexts are how we actually think about the people around us. But social networking at this point in time clumps everyone together. Any any attempt to manage that is often complicated and not always successful (just dig into the privacy controls on Facebook if you don’t believe me! :p).
The video for circles doesn’t really do the concept justice – the narrator sounds like a doddering old man. But I like the idea of the functionality. While contextual group of contacts is nothing new, I will be very keen to explore circles more when I can.
Sparks seems to be sticky clustering of feed content about an specific topic or idea. From what I gather it seems to be like a standard keyword-based feed of Google search results only with longer information of returned results. But unlike Google Reader’s fairly simple sharing capabilities, it seems sparks is designed to not just feed your personal interest in a topic, but also encourage sharing that interest with others by give you an easy interface for sharing.
Here’s the sparks video. Not sure who the young geek/hipster kid is narrating this one, but he also seems to under-sell the concept.
Webcams have played an interesting role in internet culture for some time. Whether it’s corporate-style video conferencing, chatting to family and friends while you’re overseas or other forms of stimulation(!) webcams have yet to become a regular feature of how people use the internet. Hangouts is an attempt to (re)create the idea of just hanging out via multi-person video.
Again, I really feel like the video for hangouts fails to really get the concept across.
Moving onto the mobile device aspects of Google+, the service is available via mobile web browsers. There’s also a Google+ app available for Android devices from today. UPDATE 3 July 2011 9:21 PM: Actually, when you instal the app you actually get two apps: the Google+ app and an app for the huddle feature! This gives you the ability to interact with your Google+ account via your mobile platform.
Geo-spatial locating via ‘check-ins’ is stock-standard for mobile platforms these days.
I’m going to assume that the check-in aspect of the mobile app integrates Google Places (for mobile) and Google Latitude (for mobile) plotted on Google Maps for mobile. Anyone know if I’m right? UPDATE 5 July 2011 1.03 AM Yeah, I’m right. The check-in locations are from Google Places and when you check-in on Google+ you are also checked-in on Google Latitude.
It’s pretty self explanatory. Rather than faffing about with a 50-step-process to get your photos off your phone and onto the internet Google has created an instant upload feature that uploads things you’ve identified for instant upload to a private folder online somewhere (
presumably Picasa Web Albums? Or does Google+ have it’s own photo albums? Does anyone know? UPDATE 5 July 2011 1.03 AM turns out that photo albums in Google+ mimic your Picasa Web Albums and vice-versa so instant upload adds it to both).
The instant upload video seems to be the least naff of all the explanatory videos for Google+! :p
We all know how annoying it is when plans change: the movie session is sold out, or there’s not table at the restaurant, you really should have booked! Now you need to send 5 text messages to the 5 people you were going with asking, ‘What to do now?’ then wait for 5 different responses and try to coordinate the whole thing! All you wanted was to hang out with your friends, but somehow you’ve become liaison guy trying to keep this social outing together. It is exactly this kind of problem huddle seeks to address.
Again, the idea is very simple: it’s group mobile chat. Add the 5 friends you were going to dinner or the movies with, tell them the plan is a, ‘No go’ then talk about a new plan together. Saves a lot of coordination, frustration and sms costs!
The huddle video gets runner-up on the least naff Google+ explanatory video!
SIDENOTE: What is with the YouTube videos for each feature of Google+? I know Google’s really working hard to emphasise the attempt to make this whole service really personal, but who are these people? Who wrote the scripts for these videos?!
I’m itching to get in there and play around with the features myself, but on the face of it the Google+ service isn’t that innovative, but that’s ok because it seems to be a very concerted effort to bring a number of services/functionality together into one user interface and an attempt to address some of the obvious short-fallings of other social networking services, and that in and of itself is worthwhile enough for me to give it a go.
♺ Vic Gundotra, ‘Introducing the Google+ project: Real-life sharing, rethought for the web,’ 28 July 2011, The Official Google Blog. ★ Google+ learn more and Google+ help centre, Google Inc. ♥ Photo: Adaptation (crop and resize) of ‘Retro Corporate Logo Goodness_00021‘ by Jordan Lloyd, Creative Commons BY 2.0.