Google caused quite a commotion last week with the release of its own social network, Google+. This is Google’s most recent attempt at a social network and from the looks of the launch so far, this one may actually stick. Google integrated several features, like Circles, Hangouts and Sparks, to make their social network a fierce competitor for Facebook.
Google+ Circles are probably one of the biggest aspects of the new social network that make it so attractive. Circles allow you to put people into groups (i.e. ‘college friends’, ‘family’, ‘coworkers’, etc.) where you can decide which group you share your updates, photos, and videos with. When you add someone to your circle, they can see that you’re connected, but not which circle you put them in. This feature allows you to easily interact with your different sets of friends without setting individual privacy settings for each person.
Hangouts allow you to do just that, hang out with friends. Hangouts are a video chat that can hold up to 10 people. Google+ allows you to start Hangouts with friends and then when people see that you’re hanging out, they can join the Hangout. Google compares it to “bumping into friends at a café”. This feature is quite unique and could potentially turn into an extremely useful tool businesses to more easily communicate with their remote workers.
Sparks is how Google+ helps you categorize and keep track of your interests. Simply search for whatever you’re interested in (i.e. cooking, golf, fashion) and add it to your interests. Google+ will then pull news articles, blog posts and any other links regarding your interest and put them into your Sparks feed. Sparks also allows you to keep your interests separate so if you only want to view information on one interest, you don’t have to weed through articles about your other interests to find it.
Google+ has many other features besides these three including full integration with your Google account. This feature makes it easy to login and keep track of your network, email, documents and more. Google has tried social networks in the past (remember Wave and Buzz?) but it seems like this time they’ve created something that has definite potential to be something great.