Monday, July 25, 2011

Google’s own Facebook: Google+

Image found here.

A silent watcher. That’s what they call it. As I’m lurking in offline mode, checking out who’s having dinner with whom, in which restaurant, what the lobster soup taste and look like, and how the rain poured down on their way to it, I just can’t help myself thinking why on earth I would want to know any of that.

And yet, I do, and with me 750 million others. That’s when Google decided: “I want Facebook too”, and launched Google+. Currently only available upon invitation, Google+ tries to beat Facebook by making their platform more like the real life, by introducing Circles, Sparks, and Hangouts.

Circles enables a user to share certain things with certain people only who are in their ‘circle’. Sparks picks out interesting content from the web based on your preferences, similar to Stumbleupon. And Hangouts, what Google calls ‘the next best thing apart from teleportation’, attempts to simulate being in a social environment like a party, where you meet friends by chance.

A smart move of Google, to let the users do the work for them by letting them put the right contacts in the right circles. However, it still isn’t perfect. For example when you share content within a circle, everyone else in that circle knows who you’ve shared it with. That's not always preferable, as with CC and BCC in email.

And that’s exactly what the invitation only policy is for, to get feedback and improve it before the Grand Launch. And so the war in social media land gains another giant player. With already over 2 million members in the first two weeks, things looks pretty promising for Google+. Meanwhile, Facebook announced to launch new product improvements, including the recently leaked out iPad Facebook app.

“I liked Google+ when it was still called Facebook” is what you’ll hear more often these days. Which brings us to the question whether there is still room for another social media platform. And also, how much more will Google get to know about our lives, if it doesn’t already know everything that is.

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