The Google+ Project is rolling out finally. That is right, Google’s (I lost track of what number this is) social project is rolling out. Right now it is in invitation only mode, which is how Google does a LOT of its roll outs. By the way, if you are a member and have some invites to give out, send one my way! However, what does this new project mean for Google’s other social applications?
Google+ (Google Plus) has a few interesting features. Those features are +Profiles, +Circles, +Stream, +Sparks, +Photos, +Hangouts, +Chat, +Mobile and of course +1. A couple of these features seem to overlap currently existing Google services. My curious question is this, “Is Google+ going to take over the functions of all of the previous services, and essentially replace them?” Let us go through these and describe what I mean.
+Stream – Stream functions exactly as your wall does on Facebook. However, have you ever checked your Google Buzz (if you aren’t already a normal user)? Google Buzz displays YouTube videos, Photos uploaded to Picasa, and various posts. Stream is going to do the same exact thing. However, it won’t be tied into these other features, as it will be focused on Google+ services.
+Photos – This is a tricky one. It sounds an awful lot like Picasa, but it isn’t Picasa. Does this mean Picasa is getting a name change, or is Picasa being overtaken? Photos is much like Picasa and Facebooks Photo album, you share photos to your profile for the world to see.
+Profiles – This one seems to be an apparent and direct integration. Your currently existing Google Profile is also going to be your Google+ Profile. This is how all of your information will be shared, much like a Facebook Profile.
I did notice a few things when on my Google Profile that I haven’t really made any notice about before. Where it shows Photos. This has been labeled as such for a good number of weeks. However, when you click that tab, it takes you to your Picasa Albums (if you set it up). I like how it looks when you hover over an album. Try it out. My speculation is that the above services/features will not be “new” features, but perhaps re-labeled and re-serviced services from Google, and then implemented directly into Google+. This all really plays into what I discussed on the previous article with Google’s social services spread out like “plug-ins”. This new service takes those all, wraps them up neatly, and redistributes them so that anyone that signs up to Google will have instant access and knowledge of these services.
Here are a couple other services from Google+ that I think are rather interesting.
+1 – Google’s version of the “Like” button. It has been out and about for a couple of months now, and is completely integrated in desktop searches. Also currently visible on your Google Profile. Using this feature is meant to help make your searches more relevant.
+Circles – Circles functions much like setting up Groups does on Facebook, or in your contacts/address book does. It helps you keep specific people organized in specific social circles for sharing relevant information with those particular groups without sharing it with everyone.
+Sparks – This is pretty much your interests. Sparks, as in “Sparks your Interest”, or “spark up a conversation”.
+Chat – This one seems to be a bit misleading. I would have gone for calling it +Conversation, or something similar. This is more like a thread of comments as seen in your Google Buzz, but apparently going to be a bit more streamlined perhaps.
+Hangouts – This is kind of cool. This is more of a collaboration tool than anything. It lets you set up voice and cam chat rooms with multiple people. And most interesting of all, people can randomly “pop in” without invites as long as they are a member of the hangout.
Now, how does Google intend to take ultimate advantage of this new Social Network setup? The most obvious method possible! Your mobile device. Android devices running Android 2.1 and higher will have access to the App, which is available in the Android Market right now. iOS 4+ for iPhone will have a native app soon, as well. For older Android (1.5+) and iPhone (iOS 3+) devices, they can access Google+ via the browser at http://m.google.com/app/plus. All other devices will have access to the web platform through their browsers, as well. However, those devices will get a “Basic” experience. Google states that it hopes to get a Tablet version developed in the future. With that said, having Google+ for both phones and tablets ready by the time Android 4 Ice Cream Sandwich rolls out would really establish the Android Platform well ahead of ANY other mobile platform.
Again, if you have any invites to send out, throw one my way! I would love to give this a run. All that I have stated above is based off of what Google has posted on the website, and speculation based on being a user of Picasa, Buzz and Profiles already.