Rumors that Google was working on its own social networking site have bounced around the net for a long time but today the search engine giant official announced Google+. Google+ is not the companies’ first foray into social media; anyone who remembers the ill received Google Buzz will attest to the fact that Google has gone down a similar road in the past. What makes Google+ stand out is that instead of trying to emulate Facebook and other social networks it looks to restructure them and make a more focused experience.

The main features of Google+ are based around the +Circles feature. +Circle is based on the idea that not everyone within your social network needs to see or even should see everything you write. The +Circle feature allows you to set limitations on who gets to see a particular announcement or media. In this way the user gains more control over private information and is able to keep their work, family and social lives separate.

The other features of Google+ are best explained from Google’s official blog entry:

• +Sparks: Add your interests, and Google returns relevant content from across the web – and a few clicks will start a conversation about the link with the circles you choose.
• +Hangouts: Flag yourself as available, and anyone who wants can initiate a live multi-user video or text chat with you. Google’s promoting it as a lot more “casual” than traditional instant messaging and chat features since it’s drop-in, drop-out according to availability.
• +Mobile: Like Twitter, you can tag your posts to The Google+ Project with your location. But more interestingly, +Mobile will also add your smartphone pictures to the Google cloud in real-time to promote sharing. And you can send messages to entire Circles at once from the app. It’s only available for the Android Market right now, but Google promises an Apple iTunes App Store release coming soon.

The ideas behind Google+ provide a logical step forward for social media networks but since access is on an invite only basis it’s hard to tell how successful the company will be with this venture. Despite the huge fellowship Google has it will still have an uphill battle to compete with the likes of Facebook.

– Richard Keene
IT Computer Support of New York
Design and Optimization Department