Social networking project Google+ at a quick glance

June 29th, 2011 by | 1 Comment

Google finally unveiled Google+, the company’s long-rumored social networking project set to take on a field currently dominated by Facebook. Announced by Google’s senior VP of Engineering Vic Gundotra via the Google Blog, the social media site seems to be the outcome of the Google Circles rumor that surfaced earlier this year.

“We’d like to bring the nuance and richness of real-life sharing to software.” Gundotra said. “We want to make Google better by including you, your relationships, and your interests. And so begins the Google+ project.”

Like your sites of the standard social networking pedigree, Google+ aims to connect users with one another, and share interests, news and updates, among many other things, with their friends within their social graphs. It comes with a handful of social components  (Circles, Hangouts and Sparks) meant to organize people in your social circles, help you organize events and share to specific or groups of people what you’re into.


Circles is perhaps the first layer of the whole Google+ experience which lets you organize your contacts based on your own classifications. This strays away from the now generic term “friends” that on the Twitters, Facebooks and Tumblrs of the world just defines the people on your social graph.

“From close family to foodies, we found that people already use real-life circles to express themselves, and to share with precisely the right folks.” states Gundotra. “So we did the only thing that made sense: we brought Circles to software. Just make a circle, add your people, and share what’s new—just like any other day.”

The Circles interface is straightforward, featuring literal virtual circles that you can customize according to your own social grouping. Built on HTML5, you can drag your contacts into any of these circles to organize your contacts.


Displaying optimized Web video chat capabilities is Hangouts. Here, you can engage with specific or entire circles of your online contacts via Web cam, a feature you may already be utilizing with instant messengers and social networks. However, what sets this apart from customary group chats is that it builds on the serendipitous aspect of online meet-ups, and eliminates awkward scenarios like unresponsive contacts. Given its nomenclature, it offers Google+ as the virtual hangout platform for users who happen to be online at the same time.

“By combining the casual meet-up with live multi-person video, Hangouts lets you stop by when you’re free, and spend time with your Circles.” Gundotra explains. He also stated that the motivation for developing Hangout was that they wanted to make on-screen gatherings “fun, fluid and serendipitous.”

At the onset, Google+ will make it known to your circles that there is a Hangout session in place. With a click of a button, interested people can join in.

In addition to this, there is only one broadcasting video feed, powered by a cam-switching capability that focuses and toggles depending on who’s currently talking. This is a good feature as it does away with your usual hard to manage multi-feed setup.


While Sparks falls deeply within the same feature cluster as Facebook’s Like in that it lets you specify things you like and share it with people within your social circles. It’s basically a recommendation engine that displays content across the Web that relates to your set of interests, making it a front-end companion to the +1 button.

“The web, of course, is filled with great content—from timely articles to vibrant photos to funny videos. And great content can lead to great conversations. We noticed, however, that it’s still too hard to find and share the things we care about—not without lots of work, and lots of noise. So, we built an online sharing engine called Sparks.” said Gundotra.

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