If you’ve been on the internet at all over the past week or so, you have probably seen/heard about Google+, Google’s new social interaction features.
We’ve seen Google try to do the social thing before (Google buzz, Google wave) and it didn’t work out so well. This time, however, it seems as if Google may have caught on to how individuals actually want to make the Google experience a social one. Still on trial run to a limited invited few, Google+ combines the way humans function in real life with the way humans function online, and have created a integrated and logical way to connect with the people in our lives. The key features include Circles, Hangouts, Instant Upload, Sparks and Huddle.
Here is a quick rundown of each feature:
This feature is a way to categorize friends, acquaintances, family members, co-workers and everyone else in your life. Similar to groups on Facebook, Circles creates the literal and virtual counterpart to the real life social circle. The interface is great; just click and drag people into the appropriate circle, just like you would in real life. Circles are an easy way to group and share information with the right people.
Again, Google must have considered how social interactions most naturally happen in real life and then tried to find a way to seamlessly apply that to virtual and online interaction. So, most often when we gather in real life, we hang out. Until now, online interaction has never been as casual and easy as real life. Instead, one must initiate a conversation, share information, or schedule a time to get together online. With Google + Hangouts, the “unplanned meet up” comes to the web for the first time. Now, whenever online, you can let specific friends, or entire circles, know your hanging out and whoever else is hanging out can drop in for a video chat. This multi person video chat features volume sensitive focus, drawing attention to whoever is talking, or talking loudest, just like in real life conversation.
Instant upload pulls photos immediately from a phone to a Google+ account. Although a small feature, this is extremely useful to share photos instantly, never having to plug in and sync. Also, share photos with your circles with one click!
Sparks lets you add your interests, and then it feeds information that it thinks you will like. Whether it’s a blog, article, video or page, Sparks gives you interesting content to enjoy on your own time. Sparks really lets you filter the internet, bringing you cool things that actually interest you.
Huddle turns group text into group chat; letting groups of friends contribute to a conversation on the go. Huddle with an entire circle and easily coordinate with others. Huddle saves your texting fingers from relaying a single message dozens of times between friends, and helps keep everyone on the same page.
We are really impressed with Google’s venture in to social media. Needless to say, Google+ blows Wave and Buzz out of the water. By combining real life human social behaviors with the power, intelligence and popularity of Google, we see Google+ becoming a social second nature.