The rumors of a new social network from Google were confirmed yesterday with the announcement of Google+. There are quite a few interesting ideas there.
Firstly, I’d been waiting for a proper social network from Google for ages. Google Wave was more of a collaboration tool, which failed. Google Buzz, even though useful, is not enough. I am using Google for plenty of other things – search, email, news reading, instant messaging, collaboration and sharing of documents, etc – it only makes more sense to wrap it all around with a social network.
Secondly, I’m glad to see that Google is trying to solve the major problem that I have with each and every other social network in use today – sharing with specific groups of people. I was born in one country, but currently live in another. I speak two languages, which are not shared by most of my connections. I have a number of different interests. I’ve worked with many people in a few companies across several industries. I desperately need a way to share with only specific groups of people. I know that some social networks tried to provide the functionality – Facebook and Flickr, for example – but it’s not trivial. I need more automation and control for that process. Google+ has something called Circles, which looks and sounds like what I need.
Thirdly, video conferencing. It’s been long overdue. And the only real option there is now is Skype, which I’d rather stop using altogether.
Fourthly, group chats. Especially on the mobile. There are a few alternatives that were developed in the last couple of years, but it’s hard to migrate all your contacts to yet another protocol. Enough of my contacts are using Google, so this sounds promising.
Too bad, Google+ is still not available to everyone – it’s invitation only. Hopefully, Google won’t repeat the mistake of the Google Wave, when they delayed the masses for so long that most people left before their friends joined.