The social networking fad has engulfed majority of the computer literate population in the world, making the existence of a virtual identity is as essential as a real one. One of the newest contenders in the social networking battleground is multibillion Google Inc.’s ‘Google Plus’ (G+ or Google +).
Launched on 28th June 2011, G+ was Google’s answer to Mark Zuckerberg’s 750 million users strong “Facebook”; after just four weeks in operation G+ already had 25 million users to its name.Like all other social networking websites G+ allows you to share pictures, videos, instant messages, etc. but along these typical features, there are some exclusive features which sets Google plus ahead of its time.
• CIRCLES: This lets the user classify people into different groups; the privacy settings allow users to share certain information with a particular circle only. This classification can be done with the help of a drag-drop technique. This feature is more evolved than the typical friend list feature in Facebook and other social networking websites.
• HANGOUTS: This is similar to an online conference; Hangouts allow group video chat with a maximum of ten people at a time. The uniqueness lies in the fact that anyone on the web can join a hangout if they possess the URL of that hangout.
• SPARKS: Enables users to select and share topics that they find interesting, this keeps a user updated on their respective topics of interest.
• STREAMS: Users can see the updates of people in their circles; the stream can be set to only get updated for a certain circle.
• +1 Button: This button helps people to recommend links, sites and media; similar to the ‘Like’ button in Facebook.
• INSTANT UPLOADS: This allows instant upload/download of media.
The user-interface of Google plus is quite raw and basic. Its clean and edgy look makes a first-time user get comfortable with the basic elements of the website very soon. It has rounded buttons and the insets are semi-transparent drop out shadow boxes. The text and pictures are widely separated and easy to read. On the downside, for some unexplainable reason, G+ does not offer its users the option of Private Messaging which has been a standard part of all notable social networking websites.
Google Plus’ prime rival Facebook is, seven years old fully developed social network portal whereas G+ has just been launched about four months ago; hence, drawing a comparison between the two seems pretty irrational right now. Google Plus is only a child taking its first steps in the webosphere whereas, Facebook is a steady marching social networking heavyweight; however, on the upside, G+ is still under development and Google is sure going to live up to its reputation and improve G+ further very soon.