Google was kind enough to send SAI some invitations for its new social networking service Google+, and after a few hiccups we’ve been able to get on the service.
First impression: it’s Facebook. With video chat. Only it doesn’t have any people on it yet, so it’s not as useful.
There are some subtle differences in how you invite friends and so on, but the MAIN page — the page that shows up when you click your +name (I’m “+Matt”) in the black Google toolbar at the top of Google’s search page, and that serves as headquarters for all your Google+ activities — looks almost EXACTLY like Facebook.
There’s a status bar up top, icons for adding photos, links, and videos, even a spot in the right hand margin where they suggest other people you might know.
It’s like they cloned it.
See for yourself:
Google just threw down the digital gauntlet, right in front of Facebook’s feet, with the announcement of a new social sharing site called Google+.
The site is invite-only at the moment (cue hundreds of “Can anyone spare me a Plus invite?” requests on Twitter), so for those who can’t get inside, the basic premise is this: Plus lets you create groups of people called “Circles”, and you can share stuff among those groups in a more focused way than you might using Facebook.
So while you might share the news that you’ve got engaged with everyone in all your Circles, the other news – about how your engagement party ended up with three hospitalized casualties, your car painted bright pink, and your purchase of 20 square miles of prime Los Angeles real estate for just $20 and a can of Coke – might just be shared with your BFFs. Or maybe the subset of your BFFs who were invited to the party.
There are also “Hangouts”, in which Google appears to have invented the chatroom. You can create one, or join one created by a friend, at any time. Participants are connected via video chat and can, you know, hang out. Another feature, Huddle, is much the same but for text chat between groups of people. Sorry, Circles.
There’s also instant photo sharing and a feature called Sparks, which offers something new: auto-generated content feeds based on your chosen topics. It’s like blogging never happened. You tell sparks what you’re interested in, and it scoots around the web finding stuff it thinks you’ll find interesting.
Google’s created a Google Maps-style demo you can play with to get to know Plus a little better.
So will Plus out-Facebook Facebook? Will people care enough to sign up, assign buddies to Circles, join Hangouts, and browse Sparks? Or will they all be too busy on Facebook to notice?
Google+ is in limited Field Trial
At the moment, we’re testing with a small number of people, but it won’t be long before the Google+ project is ready for everyone. Leave us your email address and we’ll make sure that you’re the first to know when we’re ready to invite more people.