Unless you’ve been living under a rock this past week, then you would have heard what practically everyone (and I mean everyone!) is talking about, Google+.
The search giant last week released a brand new social network and it wasn’t long before it was given the label of ‘the Facebook killer”. But will this really be the case? Let’s take a look at Google+ in detail and I will let you decide.
What is Google+?
It is Google’s latest attempt in gaining some market share in the social network area. Here is how Google explains the new service:
We realize that today people are increasingly connecting with one another on the web. But the ways in which we connect online are limited and don’t mimic our real-life relationships. The Google+ project is our attempt to make online sharing even better. We aren’t trying to replace what’s currently available; we just want to introduce a new way to connect online with the people that matter to you.
Sounds pretty cool, huh? And it is. There are 5 main features to Google+: Circles, Hangouts, Instant Upload, Sparks and Huddle.
While most social networks are about sharing with a wide audience, Google has gone in the other direction. Circles allows you to group friends, family, and various associates into groups and optimizing the flow of information to each one. This is a great way to keep your professional and private life separate and something which Facebook doesn’t easily provide.
In my opinion, this is the coolest feature of the project and it’s what sets Google+ apart from Facebook. Hangouts lets up to 10 users simultaneously video chat with each other face-to-face.
This is a simple way to ensure that all the photos you take on your phone are easily accessible. While you’re snapping pictures, 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.
Think of it as anything that is meant to “spark” a conversation. Google+ will keep a feed of content that is based on your interests which you can view at any time and then share with your friends who have the same interests.
Huddle is a group text-chat tool within Google+ for having private conversations within a Circle. You can use this feature directly from your phone – that’s if you use an Android 2.0+ or iPhone 4.0+ phone.
There are some great videos explaining each feature in more depth here.
Other things you should know about Google+:
- An Android app is currently available for Google+
- Google has submitted to Apple’s App Store an iOS app for using Google+ and it is awaiting approval
- Businesses looking to market on Google+ won’t be left out. “Pages” similar to Facebook “fan pages” will be coming soon, according to Google’s Jeff Huber
- Google has already been forced to tweak its privacy setting on Google+ by completely eliminating the ability to share certain semiprivate posts to your wider network of friends
- You still own everything you put on Google+ (unlike Facebook which takes co-ownership”). The Google+ Terms of Service state “You retain copyright and any other rights you already hold in Content which you submit, post or display on or through, the Services.”
- Rumors of games in Google+ are already doing the rounds in the blogosphere
- Facebook has responded to the launch of Google+ with the announcement of “something awesome” tomorrow (Wednesday 6th July). We hear it is a deal with Skype to launch a video chat service
- Mashable have already provided instructions on how to import your Facebook contacts into Google+. Now that’s keen!
How can I get into Google+?
That’s the tricky part. Unless you have already scored yourself an invite, then you’re going to be waiting a while. As of late last week, Google closed any new sign-ups for invitations as it was overwhelmed with the number of people who had joined already (including Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg – surprised?). So for the time being all you can do is sign-up to receive notifications of when new invites will be available. You can do so here.
If you are one of the lucky few to be already testing out Google+, then we would love to hear your thoughts.
Will Google+ really spell the end for Facebook?
In my opinion, NO. I think it will take a lot for Facebook users to jump over to Google+. Most users of Facebook are non-techy “followers” who are quite content with the Facebook network. They are simply on there because everyone else is. So unless Google+ can differentiate itself massively from Facebook which would compel users to switch across then I can’t see it happening anytime soon. While most ‘techy” users will love Google+ and its features, they are certainly in the minority and it will take a big shift in consumer behaviour to see so many people move to Google+. I like how Robert Scoble summed it up:
…it’s clear Google has turned a corner. They have now proven to everyone that they can do social and get on the playing field.
But they haven’t yet proven that they can convince your mom to use it…