Google Plus is Google’s take on the social network concept. The application is intended to provide users with a number of improved social networking features. Users will be able to create Circles that can be used to organize their contact list. Circles, which are essentially social circles, allow users to separate friends, family and coworkers however they like. Members of one circle cannot view the members added to another circle on the user’s profile, creating a much needed separation of interests. Google Plus user can also join Hangouts. Hangouts allow up to 10 people to participate in group video chat. A Huddle feature is included which provides mobile access for iPhones, Android devices and SMS devices. Android devices will also be able to use the Instant Upload feature to store video or photos in a private album. Sparks allows users to identify topics they are interested in, that could spark conversation. Through Sparks, users can stay updated on developments and stories based on their topic of interest. The Stream allows users to see recent updates from their Circles. A Data Liberation option permits users to download content from Google Plus. The application does not yet offer an API like other popular social networks; however it will integrate with other Google applications.Show more screenshots »
It was really only a matter of time before Google produced its own social network. Google Plus is intended to provide all the features users want and need out of a social network. The Google Blog introduced the Plus project on June 28th, 2011. Although the application offers many features, some user are not interested. Many think that Google Plus is simply another take on the hugely successful Facebook. At the end of September 2011, the social network reached 43 million users, a 30% increase since opening to the public.
Google Plus provides many features, which are very effective but not terribly different from what other social networks already offer. The application works with others in the Google family tree, including Gmail, Google Docs and Google Calendar. The Google name on the application might encourage some users to give it a try, but other than that it doesn’t offer anything remarkable unique. Compared to Facebook it is easier to share information with just a group of people because all contacts are added to a Circle, for example you can share a message with only your friends circle or your colleagues circle.
Google Plus uses the familiar design favored by other applications that bear the Google name. The homepage includes a white background with the colorful Google logo in the upper, left hand corner. Painted lines of color decorate the homepage in red, blue, green and yellow. The Hangout feature includes multiple video streams, showing each participant. The user interface gives the application a different feel, with a drag and drop system that allows the user to shift from one item to the next. Much like Google Maps, a zoom in slider bar is presented along the left side.
Google Plus is available to all users for free. The application is in beta, so it is possible changes could be made later. At this point, there is no indication that a subscription fee will be added any time soon. Much like other Google applications and non-Google social networks, users can access all features as often as they like for free.
Google Plus offers another social network for individuals and professionals. Users who already have a Google account will really appreciate the Plus project. The interface offers a more colorful, cutting edge atmosphere that could give the application a leg up with current Facebook users.