Google unveils latest social networking feat

Last Updated: Wednesday, June 29, 2011 - 10:00

Boston: Taking on Facebook, internet search
giant Google today unveiled its version of a social networking
service called `Google Plus` as part of efforts to garner a
share in the lucrative social networking space that has so far
been dominated by the Mark Zuckerberg-led popular site.

Promising to bring "real-world interactions" and
"real-life sharing" online, `Google Plus` lets users post
photos, messages, comments and other content from selected
groups of friends.

"Today, the connections between people increasingly
happen online. Yet the subtlety and substance of real-world
interactions are lost in the rigidness of our online tools,"
Google`s Senior Vice President for Engineering Vic Gundotra
said in a blog post.

It said its new service aims to "fix" the "broken" and
"awkward" way people interact online.

"Through the Google+ project, we`d like to bring the
nuance and richness of real-life sharing to software,"
Gundotra said.

Google Plus will be available as an application in the
store on Android operating system-based mobile phones.

The service has been started as a field trial that may
have some "rough edges" and the project is by invitation only,
which is expected to be made available more broadly in the
future.

The service has features like `Circles`, `Sparks`,
`Hangouts` and `Mobile`.

Through Circles, Google targets Facebook`s features in
which a user`s information is shared by default with a large
number of his or her friends, including their work colleagues
and acquaintances, rather than only their close personal
friends.

"The problem is that today`s online services turn
friendship into fast food, wrapping everyone in `friend`
paper and sharing really suffers," Gundotra said.

Calling this "sloppy, scary and insensitive", Google said
people want to connect with only certain people at certain
times, while "online, we hear from everyone all the time."
Google`s new social network promises to let users "share
just the right things with just the right people."

Further, through its `Instant Upload` feature, Google
"with your permission" will add photos to a private album in
the cloud while the user is taking pictures.

Users can also create groups of contacts with which they
share information, such as "your friends from Saturday night,"
"your parents," and "your boss in a circle by himself-just
like in real life".

In contrast to Facebook, Google`s new service will also
let users video chat with numerous friends simultaneously.
Another feature called `Sparks` suggests articles to read
and videos to watch based on the users` interests.

Its "Huddle" feature lets users send text messages to
several different people at once, known as group texting.

Facebook has more than 600 million users worldwide and
poses tough competition to Google.

More and more users are spending their time on Facebook
than on Google and Facebook has successfully lured
advertisers, a trend that Google sees as a potential threat.

In May, 180 million people visited Google sites,
including YouTube, according to research firm ComScore.

While More than 157 million visited Facebook, those
Facebook users spent an average of 375 minutes on the site as
compared to 231 minutes on Google.

PTI

First Published: Wednesday, June 29, 2011 - 10:00

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