Much like Facebook, it allows people to share and discuss status updates, photos and links but with different groups of people.
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/06/29/technology/29google.html?_r=1 “ In real life, we have walls and windows and I can speak to you knowing who’s in the room, but in the online world, you get to a ‘Share’ box and you share with the whole world. We have a new model.” (Bradley Horowitz, vice president for product management at Google)
+Circles “ Share what matters, with the people who matter most” (Google)
+Circles “ If there is anything that will make people want to manually organize their contacts, this could be it. This is really important because as I've argued for several years, groups are the secret weapon of the social web. Anything that can increase the percentage of social software users who are actively curating dynamic, topical sources is a net win for the web and for the people who use it. List creation on competing services has been a mixed bag. It's undervalued at Twitter and suffocated on Facebook.” (ReadWriteWeb)
‘ Circles’ enable users to share different things with different groups of people.
Users can create different ‘Circles’ for different groups for example, one for family, one for friends, for work colleagues and for cyclists etc.
Enable people to connect with certain people at certain times
Encourage more sharing because according to Google every online conversation is usually a “public performance” which means we often share less because of “stage fright”.
Are sensitive in the way that a creator can put people in different circles without that person knowing which circle they are in because Google believes that “we all define “friend” and “family” differently—in our own way, on our own terms—but we lose this nuance online.”
+Sparks “ Strike up a conversation, about pretty much anything” (Google)
‘ Sparks’ functions just like a search engine but makes recommendations for content which could be suitable for you, according to the interests you enter.
Content includes blog posts, articles and videos from across the web.
“ Sparks may end up being Google+’s most underrated feature. The company has essentially created a recommendation engine without calling it one. It’s designed to augment Google+, and if it works as Google designed it, it will create winners and losers in the publishing world, making Google +1 buttons actually matter. Before that becomes a reality though, it needs traction and it should consider acquiring advanced content recommendation technology from a company like Trapit or my6sense.” (Mashable)
+Hangouts “ Stop by and say hello, face-to-face-to-face” (Google) Step 1 Step 2 Step 3
According to Google, it’s better than other online communication tools (like instant messaging and video-calling) which are:
annoying because you can ping everyone that’s “available,” but you’re bound to interrupt someone’s plans.
really awkward. When someone doesn't respond, you don't know if they’re just not there, or just not interested.
“ With Google+ we wanted to make on-screen gatherings fun, fluid and serendipitous, so we created Hangouts. By combining the casual meetup with live multi-person video, Hangouts lets you stop by when you're free, and spend time with your Circles. (Google)
‘ Hangouts’ enable users to have a group video chat. Its camera switching feature changes who’s on camera based on who’s talking.
It also allows several people to watch a YouTube video together, at the same time, whilst seeing each other’s reactions.
Currently, there are two unique features (although this is likely to develop in the near-future):
Instant photo uploads
Google+ Huddle (a group-texting feature for Circles)
“ We created Instant Upload to help you never leave a photo behind. 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.” (Google) “ Coordinating with friends and family in real-time is really hard in real life. After all, everyone's on different schedules, in different places, and plans can change at any moment. Phone calls and text messages can work in a pinch, but they're not quite right for getting the gang together. So Google+ includes Huddle, a group messaging experience that lets everyone inside the circle know what's going on, right this second.” (Google) http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2011/06/introducing-google-project-real-life.html
Unlike on Facebook, people do not have to agree to be friends with one another. They can receive someone’s updates without sharing their own.
Facebook has also recognised people’s desire to share with smaller groups, and last year introduced Groups to make that possible. It has been one of Facebook’s fastest-growing products, with users creating 50 million groups in the first six months, according to Facebook.
When users visit their Google+ home page, they see three columns and a stream of status updates in the middle that looks similar to Facebook.
When people post on Facebook, which is mostly off-limits to search engines, Google loses valuable information that could benefit its Web search, advertising and other products.
What the bloggersphere think http://www.nytimes.com/2011/06/29/technology/29google.html?_r=1 “ When it comes to social networking, Google finds itself in an unusual position, one that its competitors in Web search know all too well: playing catch-up with a service that dominates the market.” (NYT) “ Google+ may already be too late. In May, 180 million people visited Google sites, including YouTube, compared with 157.2 million on Facebook, according to comScore. But Facebook users looked at 103 billion pages and spent an average of 375 minutes on the site, while Google users viewed 46.3 billion pages and spent 231 minutes.” (ReadWriteWeb) “ Google+ is a bold and dramatic attempt at social. There’s a reason why Google calls this a “project” rather than a “product” — they don’t want people to think of this as the final product, but as a constantly-evolving entity that permeates every corner of the Google empire.” (Mashable)
What everybody else thinks “ As many have already pointed out, here’s the real conundrum for Google+: Getting my wife, her friends, their friends, parents from playgrounds, office workers from non-media-land, bus drivers and brain surgeons. The normal people :)” Will McInnes “ Google+ certainly looks interesting. It's slick UI and feature set are appealing and the scope for what it could be is huge. It'll live or die on the userbase though, but Facebook may well have some competition, albeit from a slightly different angle.” David Howard, founder of Mediakick.org
So should we take notice? http://www.prnewsonline.com/watercooler/Beyond-the-Buzz-What-Google+-Means-for-PR-Pros_15084.html
If more ‘normal’ users start using it, it is unlikely that it will compete with Facebook in terms of size this year.
However, there is a lot of buzz around Google+ at the moment and although it is early stages, there is a lot of potential for growth and room for further development.
“ If Google can persuade users to come back every day, it has a winner. But the company will have to do even more to provide a truly compelling alternative to Facebook. At the moment, Google+ cannot compete with the king of social, but Google doesn’t seem to be in a hurry to take on Mark Zuckerberg’s giant quite yet.” (Mashable) Overall, at the moment, there is no obvious way for businesses to use Google+ and the array of mixed reviews across the web suggests it is unknown how successful it will be. Therefore, for the time being, it is probably best to watch and learn.
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