|Slogan||Real-life sharing rethought for the web.|
|Type of site||Social network|
|Available language(s)||Over 40|
|Launched||June 28, 2011;|
Google+ (pronounced and sometimes written Google Plus, sometimes abbreviated as G+) is a social networking service operated by Google Inc. The service launched on June 28, 2011 in an invite-only “field testing” phase. The following day, existing users were allowed to invite friends, who are above 18 years of age, to the service to create their own accounts. This was suspended the next day due to an “insane demand” for accounts.
Google+ integrates social services such as Google Profiles and Google Buzz, and introduces new services Circles, Hangouts, Sparks, and Huddles. Google+ will also be available as a desktop application and as a mobile application, but only on the Android and iOS operating systems (iPhone only at the moment). Sources such as The New York Times have declared it Google’s biggest attempt to rival the social network Facebook, which had over 750 million users in 2011.
On July 14, 2011, Google announced that Google+ had reached 10 million users just two weeks after it was launched in a “limited” trial phase.After 3 weeks in operation, it had reached 20 million users.
After less than a day of being live, the Google+ iPhone app had the number one free spot in the Apple app store
- “Circles” enables users to organize contacts into groups for sharing, across various Google products and services. Although other users can view a list of people in a user’s collection of circles, they cannot view the names of those circles. The privacy settings also allow users to hide the users in their circles as well as who have them in their circle. Organization is done through a drag-and-drop interface. This system replaces the typical friends list function used by sites such as Facebook.
- “Hangouts” are places used to facilitate group video chat (with a maximum of 10 people participating in a single Hangout at any point in time). However, anyone on the web could potentially join the “Hangout” if they happen to possess the unique URL of the Hangout.
- “Huddle” is a feature available to Android, iPhone, and SMS devices for communicating through instant messaging within circles.
- “Instant Upload” is specific to Android mobile devices; it stores photos or video in a private album for sharing later.
- “Sparks” is a front-end to Google Search, enabling users to identify topics they might be interested in sharing with others; “featured interests” sparks are also available, based on topics others globally are finding interesting.Sparks helps to keep users posted on the latest updates on the topics of their interest.
- In the “Stream,” users see updates from those in their circles. The input box allows users to enter a status update or use icons to upload and share photo and videos. The Stream can be filtered to show only posts from specific Circles.
- Google+ has a “+1” button to allow people to recommend items.
- Unlike Twitter and Facebook, there is not yet an application programming interface that enables software developers to interact with Google+ programmatically.
- Additionally, Google+ presents the different icons in a graphical or pictorial manner instead of the more commonplace text written icon names.
- Similar to other Google applications, Google+ provides integration with other Google applications like Gmail, Calendar, Documents, etc.
- A “Data Liberation” option provides the ability to download one’s content from Google+
The introduction of Google+ has had an impact on the design of Google’s web search service, due to the graphical redesign (mistakenly attributed to Andy Hertzfeld). CNN noted the “combo-plate approach” of Google+, likening the new social effort to a “Taco-Bell-meets-KFC.” There have been refinements alongside speculation of a much wider impact once Google+ is fully rolled-out,including some redesign of Google Maps, Google Mail, and Google Calendar. In particular, there are changes to Picasa Web Albums:
- After tagging someone, they receive a notification and can see the photo and the related album.
- For new albums, anyone an album is shared with can see who else it is shared with.
- Albums someone shared can be tagged and re-shared by others.
- Photos up to 2048×2048 pixels and videos up to 15 minutes won’t count towards the 1 GB storage quota for Google+ users (it’s 800×800 pixels for non-Google+ users), creating “virtually unlimited” storage for mobile users.
Importing contacts from other social networks
Google+ includes a feature to invite contacts from Yahoo! and Hotmail. At this time, however, there is no official way to import Facebook contacts into Google+; but there are some workarounds to achieve it.Facebook allows users to download their data, but not in a simple format easy to import; network effects make it difficult for a new social network such as Google+ to be successful, and an easy tool to migrate to a rival service would reduce the effect.
Censorship by some governments
Within a day of the website’s launch, various news agencies reported that Google+ was blocked by the People’s Republic of China.This is part of a wider policy of censorship in Mainland China.The Iranian government has also blocked access to Google+ from 11 July 2011, as part of Internet censorship in Iran
Controversies about required information
Joining the service requires mandatory real name and gender disclosure, which at launch was shared as public information.The gender selector has options for “Male,” “Female,” and “Other.” This requirement was criticized by the weblog SlashGear for causing lack of privacy and, together with Facebook and other social networks, for forcing the user to choose among limited categories that describe preconceived gender descriptors.The mandatory public gender exposure led to criticism for making older Google profiles public. In response, Google made changes to the service that allow users to control the privacy settings of their gender information. Google’s justification for requiring gender information is that it uses that information to inform its usage of the terms “he,” “she,” and “they” in their delivery of information to users of the service. If a user decides to make the gender portion of the profile private, the language used to convey information becomes gender neutral, using the singular they in place of gender specific pronouns.
Google has suspended accounts because users were not using their real name. In some cases this has resulted people being locked out of all of Google services that they have accounts with.