Word of the Week: Google+
Google+: Last week, Google unveiled its new social network, Google+, which is being called the search giant’s answer to Facebook. It has been released on a very limited basis so far, presumably while they work out any last kinks. After the failures of Buzz and Wave, it’s tough to believe that Facebook users will switch their social networking over to Google. But Google+ is a fully functional social network that is integrated into the main forms of communication (Gmail, Gchat) used by the target audience (other than their Facebook, of course). Google is making a branding push to go along with the launch; soon Picasa will be known as Google Pictures, and Blogger will become Google Blogs. This rebranding, Google hopes, will help to reinforce the integration that is possible across all Google properties, including the new social network. Users only need to log in to one account, their Google account, in order to email, chat, video chat, share pictures, post a blog, share a link, connect with friends, etc. Google+ will host some interesting new features, as well. Circles are distinct groups of contacts to share information with. Hangouts are group video chats. Sparks will populate your profile with items of interest to you. And Huddle is group texting with the Circles that you have set up. Google has also added the +1 icon to its search pages. When users click this during their searches, it lets their friends know that this is something worth checking out. It’s still too soon to predict whether or not Google+ will catch on, but after its full release, it won’t take long to learn the answer. The past doesn’t bode well, but it appears Google has put a lot more thought and a lot more features that users want into this latest project.