There has been speculation for quite some time about whether or not Google would launch a new full-fledged social network. The answer to that question is now definitely “yes”.
For over a year, a number of stories were either leaked out or speculated upon, about Google launching a social network. Invariably, the leaks were followed by denials about it. But now, things are out in the open.
Google has finally bitten the bait, and their new social network Google Plus (or Google+) has just been launched.
While there is bound to be excitement to find out what exactly Google Plus is all about, it seems to be a combination of features that are already offered by a number of other networks.
“Real-life sharing, rethought for the web” is the tagline for the new network. Users will be required to create a profile containing a name and a photograph. They will then find five basic features. These are:
- Instant Uploads
Circles allows a user to divide contacts into different groups such as family, friends and work. This will allow them to decide what information they wish to share with a particular group of contacts, instead of having to share all information with all contacts. A similar feature is already available on Facebook in the form of Friend Lists.
Sparks is similar to Google reader, which allows users to get updated news feeds by subscribing to sources of news and information. It facilitates the spread of viral content similar to how Twitter and the Facebook News Feed do.
Hangouts allows users to hold video conversations with various contacts at the same time. This feature is also available on Tinychat. The overall premise of the feature, though, seems to be inclined more towards mimicking functionality found on Foursquare.
As the name suggests, Instant Uploads will upload the photos taken on a mobile phone automatically. This is also possible through iCloud, Microsoft Kin and other platforms. This feature, though, competes directly with Facebook and Flickr for photo-sharing.
Huddle will enable the user to have a group chat. This is also possible through Beluga, which Facebook acquired recently and is very similar to Google Wave, which got discontinued at the end of last year.
Only time will tell how popular Google+ will become and whether or not it will provide any real competition to Facebook, which is already extremely popular and quite unlikely to feel any real threat in the near future. The odds are against Google once again, but they have very successfully beaten the odds in the past and just might do so again.