Google is about to fully launch Google+ which is a project designed to allow you to organise and share your personal social information in a way that reflects real life. It's an exciting development for Social Media.
The Google team have clearly spent a vast number of hours deciding on the best way to organise personal information and have come up with five ways to do it, they are offering: Circles, Hangouts, Instant Upload, Sparks and Huddle.
The main purpose of circles is to allow you to share the right information with the right people. With a neat drag and drop interface you can easily see which of your friends, colleagues and family are in which group. Organising friends into groups in this way looks really useful, especially for people who's online presence is starting to cross over between their personal and professional lives. With Circles you can send an invitation to just a family group without sharing it with all your friends. While grouping friends is not unique, Circles looks cool because Google appear to have created it to be simple and easy to use.
Hangouts are for unplanned meetings between your friends and contacts. It's clear from Hangouts that Google sees video as an important part of their social media plans. Hangouts allow you to create your own custom video chat rooms. Tell a friend that you've started a hangout or tell a whole Circle and then anyone you've invited can come and join you. Google+ automatically detects who's speeking and switches the main video screen accordingly. It also includes text chat and other features. Hangouts look like it could be a real competitor to other cloud-based online meeting services. Here is a quick demo.
If you add the Google+ app to your mobile device every video and photo you take on it will automatically be uploaded to a private Google album. The cool thing about this is that not only is it an automatic backup of all of your photos and video but it then allows you to share them with your friends in your Circles.
If you tell Google+ what sort of things you're into then it will send you things to read, watch or share that it thinks you will like. Presumably this will be the main route for Google+ advertising.
Huddles is a neat feature allowing you to do group texting based around your Google+ circles. You choose who to invite into a group conversation. Like friend grouping this isn't unique but the initial demos look good.
So will you try it?
I certainly will be trying it out. Organising my information and deciding on what I am sharing with who is getting more and more difficult so I relish the opportunity to try something that addresses this problem.
As a company we will certainly check out the Hangouts as this could be a really useful tool for development discussions between remote locations. Likewise Circles could be useful as it could be used to group B2B contacts and share information such as press releases or promotions.
It's not going to replace applications like Facebook overnight but if people become more concerned about who they are sharing their information with then the popularity could grow. Personally I welcome the appearance of an application that allows me to more easily control how I share my information but it really will come down what the rest of the world thinks.
See the demo at: http://plus.google.com/
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