With a continuing rise in the number of people taking advantage of ever expanding technologies, Google continually comes up with new ways to help make our online experience that bit better. Noting that the number of social media profiles is steadily rising, Google decided to come up with its own social networking service in June 2011, aptly named Google+ because it is Google with a little bit more. So what exactly is Google+ and what does the future hold for such a service? Let’s take a closer look.
What is Google+?
Like Facebook and Twitter, Google+ is a social networking site. However, there is a slight difference. In order to join this site, you’ll need to receive an invitation from Google or another Google+ member. The added bonus about having a Google+ account is that all of the other great Google services are integrated, so you can easily find other user profiles and make use of the Google search engine while you are logged in. There are also various other Google+ components worthy of note, such as Circles, Huddle, Hangouts and Sparks.
In the same way as you have a circle of friends, Google+ allows you to build a circle of virtual friends too. You can use Circles to group your friends according to social gatherings, for example, best friends, school friends, and work friends. That way, you’ll be able to direct certain updates with each individual group. You can also make your feed visible to everyone (even users with no Google+ account) so that people can make comments.
How many times have you been in a three way conversation over text messages with your friends? It’s a bit awkward isn’t it? So Google+ has made it far simpler to achieve thanks to Huddle. Instead of sending your text messages individually, Huddle brings them together to form a group chat, solely between you and your friends.
Similar to Skype, Hangouts allows you to make use of instant messaging and video chat functions. Unlike Skype however, you can use Hangouts to signify to other users when you are ready to chat. Facebook allows you to turn your visibility on and off but as a whole, whereas Hangouts lets you remain invisible to some friends so that you only talk to those you want to speak to.
Sparks is a clever suggestion engine which poses items of interest for you to view, according to your personal interests. You will be able to select your chosen interests and share your findings with other users in your circle.
Future of Google+
Aside from the group SMS chat function, Google+ does not really bring much new in the way of innovation. Despite that, there was strong interest in Google+ from the start, with Google’s CEO announcing 10 million users in the two weeks after its launch. Unusually for Google, this social networking service is a little behind the times as the majority of the offerings have already been done by the likes of Facebook and Twitter. So is there a future for Google+?
In May 2013, there were some new changes announced for Google+. Initially, the majority of the social network’s users were made up of Google employees with similar interests. The company decided therefore that in order for this service to really take off, they needed to attract users from as wide a network base as possible.
Proposed changes to Hangouts include the ability to chat face to face with your mother in Europe and your father in Asia at the same time for example. Going forward, users will also be able to access the text messaging platform via android devices, iPhones and iPads with all technology in synchrony across the board.
Essentially, it would appear that in creating Google+, Google is attempting to ensure that all anyone will use when they go online is Google products and services. The fact that Google+ is not supported by the likes of Blackberry phones and that there have been some failings in reproducing the service in several different languages may mean however, that it will still alienate some users. In such cases, those users will still be able to take advantage of Facebook, Twitter, Outlook and Yahoo without any worry.
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