What You Need To Know About Google+ Part 1.

So Google + has finally gone live across the web.

The search giant has been at pains to point out that it is not a direct competitor for the Facebook audience, as you would expect.  However, you can’t help wondering whether the company is possibly protesting too much. There can be no doubt that Google + is intended to compete with Facebook, especially now it’s tied itself in with Microsoft. So, what’s so special about Google +, and why is the company hanging such hopes on it? In this 3 part article, we’ll look at Google’s attempt to go social and examine some of its key features. Part 1 will look at the general characteristics of Google+, part 2 will examine the ‘stream’ or feed and the final part will look at the new Google social network and see how it compares with the opposition.

Google + General Characteristics

  • Google+ is available on an invitation-only basis.
  • It is not meant to be a direct competitor for Facebook: at least that’s the message for public consumption anyway. In practice it clearly is.
  • Google+ is currently available for download as an ‘app’ for the android market.
  • When this app is downloaded it splits off the ‘huddle’ feature and displays this as a separate app. Huddle is Google’s chat feature and has already been taken down following a complaint from London-based start up Huddle. It’s not the first time the two companies haven’t seen eye to eye.
  • Users can post status updates, and these appear on the Google Profile under a tab called “Posts”. The +1’s and Buzz tabs remain separate. There’s already been speculation that Buzz and Posts will merge eventually.
  • According to Google these features are just the tip of the iceberg. Expect to see many more features added to Google+ over the coming months.
  • ‘Circle’ is one of the features of Google+ and acts in a similar way to Facebook Groups, except with a different interface. Circles let users share things with other users.
  • Another new feature of Google + is ‘sparks’. This application searches for videos and articles it thinks you may like based on your profile and history. The question remains, do people really want their content filtered, or would they rather choose it themselves?
  • ‘Hangouts’ is another new feature where user’s video chat with one another. Google describes this feature as ‘the unplanned meet-up’.
  • Instant uploads is a mobile-specific feature. Photos upload themselves as you take them, and are stored in a private area on the cloud.

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