Google Plus is apparently Google’s attempt to out-social Facebook. Will they succeed? Let’s take a look at what it offers before trying to answer that question:
- Circles – With this feature you can create “circles” of friends. Instead of having one big pile of friends like in Facebook, you can choose to selectively share what you’re doing with circles of friends you create and manage.
- Hangouts — A “hangout” is a place you can go hangout. Like, duh. But really, it’s a virtual space where you can let specific friends or circles know that you are available for a face-to-face chat, should they wish to do so. Kind of like in real life, when you go hang at the local coffee shop.
- Instant uploads — This feature allows you to automatically upload photos and videos to a private space where you can decide who to share them with.
- Sparks — This a current awareness service. Tell sparks what you’re into (e.g., fashion, music, etc.) and it will gather things it thinks you might be interested in for looking at whenever you have time.
- Huddle — Huddle is a group chat. Kind of like an impromptu IRC channel.
I haven’t actually tried any of these features yet, since it is still in development and requires an invitation (anyone have one? ;-) ), but based on the brief descriptions on the web site, I think it has a great deal of promise. It feels very much like taking social networking to the next level by making specific social needs both easier and more in your personal control.
So is Google Plus a Facebook killer? I don’t know — yet. But I suspect it might just be, if enough people find the above feature set as compelling as it sounds at first read. But don’t count Facebook out yet — they still have massive penetration and it isn’t trivial to jump from one social networking platform to another. Plus, Facbeook isn’t exactly sitting still.
I don’t know who will come out on top, but given the size of the competitors this is like a fight between Godzilla and Mothra, where all us puny Earthlings can do is wait to see who will be our new social networking overlord.