Google to (re) enter social networking arena

by Larry Magid

It’s too early to know how it will affect kids and families, but Google is launching a new social networking service to compete with Facebook.

Google has tried its hand at social networking before but has never hit a home run. Its Orkut social networking service is popular in Brazil but not in many other places. Its Twitter-like Buzz didn’t get much positive buzz and its Wave service waved goodbye before it was even officially launched.

With Google+ project, the company hopes that people will interact with their friends a la Facebook but there are some differences.

Circles

Your friendships on Google+ will be centered around “Circles.” The idea is that there is some information you might want to share with one circle of friends and an entirely different set of things you might want to share with another group. You can have a circle of work mates, another circle of drinking buddies and another made up of family members.

Although this is different than Facebook’s default settings, it’s actually possible to do exactly the same thing in Facebook by setting up groups.

Huddle and Hangouts

Google+ will encourage you to hangout with your friends via group chat (they’re calling it Huddle) and via video “hangouts,” which Google describes as “Let buddies know you’re hanging out and see who drops by for a face-to-face-to-face chat. Until we perfect teleportation, it’s the next best thing.”

Sparks you might like & pictures you can auto-share

Although this doesn’t seem all that revolutionary, Google also plans to offer  you videos and articles it thinks you’ll like, “so when you’re free, there’s always something to watch, read, and share.”

And if you want to share pictures of yourself and your friends, you can take advantage of the service’s Instant Upload feature so that “your photos and videos upload themselves automatically, to a private album on Google+.”

By invite only (for now)

The company says that it’s “still ironing out a few kinks in Google+” so it’s not ready for everyone. You can click here to receive an email when “the doors are open for real.”

Other stories about  Google+

CNET

Huffington Post

Associated Press

 

Google+ promotional video

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