Google has succeeded in conquering the world of search, and now they are attempting to make their mark in the social networking scene. Launched on June 28th, 2011 the Google Plus Project is currently in a “filed trial period” and the internet world is watching to see where it will go. Currently an invitation only network, Google Plus is aiming to be a combination of features from various social networks we already use, but is hoping to do them better. Users are either invited by a friend already in the trial, or an invitation can be requested from the Google Plus home page. Here are a few of the features that you will find when you join the Google Plus Project.
Circles are your group of people in your Google Plus network. The difference is that users put each person they are connected with in a “Circle” or category to be sure that the right stuff is shared with the right people. This helps you control who sees what. So, mom and dad can be put in your “family” circle and be sheltered from photos from the crazy weekend at the lake. You control who sees what and can differentiate among groups such as family, coworkers, college buddies, and friends.
Hangouts are online meet-ups where groups can gather to chat. Up to ten people can join in on a “hangout” and enter virtual rooms to video chat with the group. It’s another way to get people together from the comfort of their own home or office. It’s Google’s version of the chat room, taken to a new video level.
If you tend to text groups of people all at once, the Huddle feature is what you need. This group messaging feature allows users to get a group of friends connected. So, when your group is trying to pick a restaurant for Friday night or decide which movie to see, a Huddle allows everyone to communicate. There is even a mobile app for Android for the Huddle feature.
Sometimes it seems the internet knows you better than you know yourself. Sparks are feeds of information sent to you based on your interested. This feature is like Google Reader except that it sends you stuff automatically rather than you having to search for it.
The growth of Google Plus has been steady and quick adding over 20 million users in just the first month. It remains to be seen if Google will be able to make a lasting name for themselves in the social media realm. With competitors like Facebook and Twitter already so well established, it’s going to be a tough road. But, if there is a powerhouse that could make an attempt, it most certainly is Google.