Google+ may seem like Facebook with a twist, but the company has taken every measure to make sure that it is not deemed so. The site integrates some of Google’s other services like maps and images, giving users a different feel from Facebook.
One of the primary goals of the site is to aid users in classifying their various contacts into different groups. Some critics of the site claim that all Google has done is mimic Facebook’s features while throwing in a video chat option.
If you’ve been keeping with the latest technological news then you’ll certainly know that Google, which claims about 66% of all internet searches in the United States, has tried taking on Facebook before. Unfortunately, the company hasn’t had much luck in the social realm with both its Google Wave and Google Buzz services flopping without much popularity.
Google hopes that some things will help it to stand apart. Besides the company’s integration of its other products and services, they have also added four unique features that they’re hoping will snatch away Facebook’s users.
Circles – a feature that utilizes the classification methods that I spoke of earlier. Circle allows you to place your friends into different categories and choose what information to share with which friends.
Hangouts – a feature that allows users to hold joint video sessions between friends, who can drop in and out at their leisure.
Huddle – an instant messaging feature that allows a group of people to message each other, as opposed to the one-on-one typical messaging.
Sparks – a feature that displays individuals and information relevant to the interests that you have listed on your profile.
Currently, Google+ is still in its beta phases, and as such has only be released to a few users; an interesting twist on this is that Google has allowed this select group of users to invite their friends to use the beta version of the service, perhaps by making it exclusive they hope to gain some traction. When the trial version is over, Google hopes to extend its service to millions of users.
Vic Gundotra, senior vice president of engineering at Google says, "Online sharing needs a serious re-think, so it's time we got started." As evidenced by another comment, it seems that Google is trying to build even more momentum by taking shots at Facebook, "Other social networking tools make selective sharing within small groups difficult."
Experts in the industry argue that Google will have a tough road ahead if it plans to snag Facebook’s devoted users. These analysts bring up the point that many dedicated Facebook users have already built their profiles and social lives around the site, so getting them to create another one will be difficult.
Google faced some legal action for its previous social networking activities. In one of their prior projects, Google Buzz, they automatically enrolled all Gmail users without requesting their permission first. They recently reached a settlement regarding the issue.