Will Google Plus Win You Over?

June 29th, 2011

Social networking isn’t perfect. But Google is trying to take it to a nearly flawless level. Their upcoming product, Google Plus, hopes to be a contender for Facebook’s social throne.

Although Facebook and Google offer very different services, they are competitors. Both provide content to inform and entertain visitors. And both are vying for time and attention from global web surfers.

Google Plus (or G+ as I like to call it) could be the “next big thing” in social networking. The company is taking a big gamble that it will be.

About Google Plus

You may have heard of Google Plus, but you haven’t seen it in action. Only a few people have. A Beta version was deployed to a small group of journalists and bloggers. Not surprisingly, their opinions vary. Articles have depicted G+ as everything from a dismal failure to the future of social networking.

It began more than a year ago. In 2009, Google released Buzz, a social product that quickly fizzled. Soon after, Urs Hölzle, Google’s Head of Operations, sent a company-wide email that called for a more personal touch in future products. His memo shook up the company and led to something called “The Emerald Sea” the codename for a project that became Google Plus.

Since then, hundreds of engineers and other Google employees have worked tirelessly to prepare G+. While it has a long way to go, the basic components are all there. So far it is available by invite only, but Google hopes this will help stir up interest and excitement.

What we’ve learned about Google Plus is that it includes 5 key features. Circles, Hangouts, Instant Upload, Sparks and Huddle.

Circles

Picture this. You’re at a party, enjoying a few too many drinks. You get a little out of control and decide it would be hilarious to take pictures. So, you post some potentially inappropriate photos online. The next day you realize that, oops, your mom can see those pictures. So can your boss.

G+ aims to fix the social networking problem that comes from a lack of groups. Their solution is Circles. It enables you to create specific groups, or circles of friends. You might start a Circle for family, colleagues or fellow party animals. Then you can post comments, photos or anything else to a specific Circle. No one outside of that Circle will be able to see it.

You can create as many Circles as you want. Then drag and drop the right people into the right Circle. It might be wise to double check the party animal Circle before you post anything. This could be a major win for Google. We all have different groups we spend time with. There may be things you only want to share with certain people. C+ Circles lets you determine exactly who sees what.

Hangouts

A few years ago we all thought video chat was the wave of the future. But planning a chat with friends can be more effort than anything else. So G+ is introducing Hangouts, a place for “unplanned meet-ups.”

With a Hangout, you announce that you’re available for a group video chat. Up to ten friends can join you, and everyone can chat together. The screen prominently displays the person who is talking at the moment (or talking the loudest), and you can always see everyone who is hanging out.

Instant Upload

You take a picture with your mobile device. Maybe you email it to yourself, or a friend. When you get home, you might connect your mobile device and laptop to upload the photo. Instant Upload (IU) makes the process easier.

With IU, you take a photo or video and it automatically uploads for you. Then you can send it to any of your Circles, or share it any way you want. This could make the process of sharing, especially with groups of people, faster and easier. And it could prevent ongoing conversations that start with “Dude, when you gonna send me that pic?”

Sparks

What are you interested in? Sparks is designed to help you find it.

Sparks is like a more personal extension of Google search. It helps you find articles, videos and information about your subject of choice. You can also share information through Sparks. Once you get the details you’re looking for, just send it to any of your Circles so they can enjoy or ignore it as desired.

Huddle

Got plans with a few friends? Need to some details at the last minute? Spreading the word to everyone can be a hassle. Huddle intends to fix that by providing a group text chat. Select the appropriate people, and start Huddling.

With this service, you can text everyone at once and they call all respond to the group. The conversation is displayed on everyone’s phone, enabling each participant to comment and add their own opinions. This could make it easier for groups of people to keep in touch while on the go.

The World Of Social Networking

There are hundreds of social networking sites. You can chat, share photos, write blogs, upload videos and do most anything else. It can be a little overwhelming. For those who feel that all the different sites to check and places to connect are too much, a social profile search may be the answer.

Social profile searches find and display all the latest updates from dozens of networks. It’s an easy way to see everything from all the people you know in one convenient spot. You can check out updates from Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and everywhere else people hang out online. Even G+, when it’s available publically.

Will You Use Google Plus?

G+ hopes to offer enough benefits to convince people to make it their primary networking destination. Another advantage is you don’t necessarily have to sign up to use it. If you have an account but your cousin doesn’t, you can still share with them.

Google Plus may not be available for a while, but we’re learning more and more about its features. Are you excited about G+? Leave a comment below to share your opinions, and thank you for reading the PeopleFinders people search blog.

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