Google+ (Google Plus): Another Swing at Social Networking
Google+: Google Tries Again to Be More Social
Google has unveiled Google+, its latest take on social networking. Google+ is currently in an invite-only beta that Google is calling "field testing", but you can request a Google+ invite here.
After the misstep that was Google Buzz, the search giant is trying again, but staying away from the term "social networking", opting instead for "real life sharing".
Some of the Google+ Features
- Circles: stratified levels of connection, ostensibly more nuanced than Facebook's.
- Hangouts: sort of a group video chat built into the Gmail system: you can invite your connected friends to join in when you see them online.
- Sparks: "Geeking out together" over shared interest. Like a "like" button that goes both ways.
- Huddle: group text chat (Android-friendly) that allows you and your friends to make plans without repeating loads of SMS messages.
- Instant Upload: photos and video you take on your Android phone upload themselves, waiting for you to send them to your friends
Google+: Machines Imitating Life
Basically, Google+ is hearkening back to the pre-Web 2.0 days, when social meant face-to-face. The video intros for features like Sparks, Huddle, and the rest are invoking that sensation of unplanned adventures with your friends. Google is arguing that you can do that by giving just a bit more of your life over to them, which they will then pass on to your nearest and dearest.
However, watching those videos just makes me want to... step away from the computer and smartphone. Go hang out with my friends.
In real life.
That said, so many of my closest friends live far away from me, so tools like these become increasingly valuable as all of our lives progress.
Social Media is Still Media
However, consider for a moment that you may not be able to scratch the itch left by your digital life by adding more digital to your life. You may just have to go outside and play.
Oh, and Google's history of oversharing your private info have it subject to biannual audits.