As of today, Google’s new Google+ social networking service is expected to have more than 10 million members and that growth was all without a public launch (new users could only sign up after receiving an invite from an existing member). In addition to offering the same basic functions that users expect from a social media marketing platform—sharing content/photos/links, posting status updates, commenting on others’ content—Google has also rolled out several new features that set it apart. So if you haven’t already jumped on board to try out Google+, here’s a quick rundown of the new features:
This is one of the core features of Google+ that allows you to divide all of your contacts into different Circles to easily separate your friends, family, coworkers, etc. When you share content you can choose which of your Circles will see it. Many are calling this feature “revolutionary” and pointing to this as the biggest advantage over facebook, but some of you may be asking how this is different from facebook lists; That’s simple, Google+ Circles have a pretty drag and drop interface.
Your Stream is the equivalent of your facebook news feed, showing the stream of posts coming from all your contacts. Again Google has raised the bar with a clean, easy to use and control interface that makes it simple to see content coming from each of your circles. The mobile version of Google+ offers an additional channel to your Stream that allows you to see activity near your location.
To connect with a group of people in a live video chat room you can create a Hangout. While it is designed for video, even someone without a webcam can still participate with voice chat. Hangouts currently allow up to 10 users to connect and is also integrated with YouTube so you can watch videos as a group.
This is a mobile-only feature of Google+ that turns texting into a group chat. I’m really excited about this feature but it is currently only available on the Android app so I’ll have to wait until the iPhone app is released (coming soon!) to tell you more.
For mobile users with Android phones, the Google+ App offers instant upload of photos and videos directly to your own private album in the cloud. When you’re ready to edit or share this content it’s already uploaded and ready to go.
Just like a Stream or News Feed, Sparks provide a feed of new content. You can create a list of Sparks on any topic that are easily accessible from your Google+ navigation so you can quickly get new information on any topic you’re interested in. If you find something on a Spark that you want to share you can easily send it out on Google+ as well as other social media platforms using the share links underneath each item.
While these features are fun and may or may not turn out to be useful to you, the true value of Google+ is its integration with all of the other Google products. Chances are you are already using Google Search or Gmail or YouTube or Google Talk or Google Voice or any other number of Google services. Many are already integrated with Google+ but more and more integration will be rolled out in the near future. The future of search and even the way we use technology is social and this is just another step down that road.
If you want to check out Google+ in more detail, view the office Google+ tour or go to http://plus.google.com to sign up. You can visit the mobile version by scanning this QR code with your smartphone.