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August 02, 2011

posted by: Carissa Drohan-Jennings

LWS Explores The Google + Project

Article 1: What Is Google+?

 

Google+ is a social networking site owned by Google Inc. that was launched for field test on June 28, 2011.  As of July 25, 2011, Google+ hit 20 million users, making it the fastest growing social media site to date.

Essentially Google+ is Google’s solution to social networking.  This social media site operates much like Facebook, in that it focuses on profiles and a news feed as its main core, but it also has a lot of functionality that is unique to Google. 

This article will outline the five main tools and features that currently make up the structure of the site, namely the Circles, Hangouts, Sparks and a Mobile App. 

 

Circles

Circles is the area in Google + where you manage and filter your contacts.  A circle is a group that you create that can contain contacts of similar interests or affiliations.  Circles are used to organize your connections so that it’s easier to communicate with them.

Not all of our relationships are created equal. We share one thing with close friends, something else with our parents, and almost nothing with our bosses. The problem is that most social networking tools don’t recognize that.  Their structure has been created to allow every approved contact to see everything that is posted, regardless of their relationship status with the user.  The circles tool changes all that by allowing users to create and customize as many circles as they want, thus allowing them to separate contacts into different groups and control what content they can see..

 

Hangouts

As life becomes busier it is often hard to get together with all of your connections.  Although communication tools like email, text messaging and instant messaging have allowed us to increase the touch points of communication, there is always an element missing that comes from seeing a person face to face and running into someone and stopping for a quick chat.  Google set out to make on-screen gatherings fun, fluid and unanticipated, so they created Hangouts.

The hangouts tool allows Google + users to interact with their circles by using live webcam.  Up to 10 individuals can drop by a hangout to chat, interact or entertain.

 

Sparks

Google + has an online sharing engine that is called Sparks. Sparks delivers a feed of highly contagious content from across the Internet on any topic you choose. Google + users simply add in their interests in the Sparks tool and it will create a feed of articles, blogs and video content.  Users can also share with their desired circle of friends, creating a spark that could ignite a conversation.

 

Mobile App

The Google + mobile app has various tools built into it that add to the users social networking experience.  These tools include GPS, camera and messaging features.

GPS: Placing location tags on your phone calls or text messages allows other users within your circles to see where you are.  Since location is sometimes a great conversation starter, allowing your contacts to see where you are can help facilitate conversations and potentially meet-ups.

Camera: Downloading photos off your phone is a huge pain, so most people don't even bother. However, pictures are meant to be shared so Google wanted to make that sharing easier.  The Google + app for android and iPhone devices allows users to automatically upload their photos from their cell phone into a cloud. This way the photos are always available and ready to share.

Messaging: Coordinating an event or a meet-up with friends and family in real-time is really hard in real life. Sure, phones and text messages can help, but they often require a lot of effort on the part of the organizer.  In answer to this problem, Google created Huddle – a group messaging experience that lets everyone inside the circle know what’s going on, right this second.

 

As you can see, the Google+ platform is different from Facebook in many ways, but the two sites also have some similarities.  We invite you to check back on our website tomorrow to read our next article in the series, "Comparing Google+ To Facebook," where we will dig a little deeper to see what really sets these two social sites apart.

On a final note, Google + is in the beta phase of testing, which means that its platform is not available to the general public. In order to get in to use the system you need to be invited by someone who is already in.  If you’re a landlord who’s interested in testing this new system, simply contact us and we’ll invite you in.

 

Be sure to read our other articles in the series.

Article 2: Comparing Google + To Facebook