Google+ takes aim at Facebook, is invite-only for now

By now, some of you have no doubt heard about Google’s answer to Facebook: Google+. The service is currently in an invite-only beta stage—just like Gmail once was—so most curious folks will have to make do with Google’s blog post and the official preview site (through which one can register for a chance to be invited… eventually). For those among us with short attention spans, the video below roughly sums up what Google+ is all about:

Where Facebook keeps social interactions fairly straightforward, Google+ looks to be more elaborate. Users will have to learn about Circles, Sparks, Hangouts, Huddles, and other features that make Google+ somewhat bolder than just a copycat service. Google already has an Android app all cooked up and ready to go, and it says an iOS version is "coming soon," so mobile access is also part of the picture from the get-go.

Clearly, Google has its work cut out if it wants to pry users away from Facebook. That must be why, as AppleInsider reports, the company enlisted the help of Andy Hertzfeld, one of the user-interface designers for the original Macintosh 128K. Hertzfeld is lead designer of the Google+ project, and he reportedly imbued the service with a more colorful and animated design than one might expect from a Google service. Hopefully, the oversight of a former Apple designer will mean a decent amount of intuitiveness, as well.

In addition to pushing the envelope on the UI front, Google may be trying to appeal to users frightened by the privacy implications of signing up for Facebook. According to the New York Times, Google+ emphasizes groups, allowing users to share and communicate different information with different people. Google’s Vic Gundotra told the Times, "In real life, we have walls and windows and I can speak to you knowing who’s in the room, but in the online world, you get to a ‘Share’ box and you share with the whole world. . . . We have a different model."

Without beta access to the service, I can’t really tell how appealing Google+ will be—not just to Facebook holdouts, but also the hundreds of millions of users who already have Facebook accounts. I’m guessing the sheer convenience such an extensive user base brings to the table will be hard to beat for Google. However, the Times says analysts think people might find themselves using Facebook and Google+ for different things. Perhaps we’ll one day coordinate dinner meetups through Google+ and talk to our grandparents through Facebook… unless, that is, Facebook decides its turn has come to play copycat.

Comments closed
    • Rageypoo
    • 8 years ago

    Dear google,

    Please don’t let people say “like” inbetween every sentence in your ads

    Thank you.

      • ShadowTiger
      • 8 years ago

      Its the new wave of marketing… expect to see more companies use this in the future… *shrugs*

    • Farting Bob
    • 8 years ago

    Its main feature taht people seem to like is grouping friends seperately and then only allowing set groups to see what you post each time. FB can do this easily, it probably has done tests with it for a while behind closed doors. If they start picking up momentum, expect FB to do their own version very quickly. And then bang goes the only reason people seem interested in switching.

    • FireGryphon
    • 8 years ago

    People who got GMail invites back in the day can return the favor now.

    Really, though, I don’t see this competing with fb.

    • SNM
    • 8 years ago

    So far this looks great. Circles (like Diaspora’s Aspects) make sharing what you want with you who want way easier than Facebook’s — and to segregate your contacts usefully.

    The web interface is intuitive, usable, and friendly. It’s got AJAXy push notifications and the interface is making me smile.

    Plus, Google is generally a lot easier to escape from (without losing all your data) than Facebook ever has been.

    • kamikaziechameleon
    • 8 years ago

    Its funny I don’t like the function of microsofts networking tool but this looks really interesting. I think facebook is better for meeting people, maybe google+ will be better at organizing them.

      • Sargent Duck
      • 8 years ago

      Microsoft has a networking tool? Cool, I didn’t know that. What is it?

    • Hattig
    • 8 years ago

    The best feature here is the ability to group people easily and then chat with only them. The downside is that nobody is using it right now…

      • burntham77
      • 8 years ago

      I do like the way you can separate people. I like Facebook, but having one feed that just throws every single friend and group at you at once can get a bit overwhelming.

        • RickyTick
        • 8 years ago

        I agree, and I think this may be a growing trend.

        I can envision people having multiple social networks. You could have a PC/Tech social network, a Car Enthusiasts network, a Baseball fan network, and so on and so on. If they were all sub-networks of a larger single network, like Google+ then I might be interested.

    • Corrado
    • 8 years ago

    Was interested when I read about it yesterday. Then I watched the demo. Meh, I don’t need YASN (yet another social network) to group my friends and share my photos. Circles? Huddles? I dunno. I do like the idea of being able to share info with certain people though. If I could share “Ugh, my work sucks right now!” with my non-work friends, as opposed to everyone I’m friends with, that would be nice. But yeah… I dunno. It would take a lot of people mass migrating from Facebook for it to happen. And thats not going to happen.

    • destroy.all.monsters
    • 8 years ago

    Whatever it takes to kill facebook is fine with me.

    The problem is that social networking would be great – only if there was no profit motive. No one is really dying to be datamined. If we wanted our private details out in the open all the time we’d wear no clothes, have no walls and doors and everyone could see and be a part of our lives all the damn time.

    And of course law enforcement would just eat that up by being able to nail pretty much everyone for something trifling.

    Yet people are willing to give up almost anything all the time to people they’ve never met. While various industry leaders are salivating at what they consider to be the end of privacy (for their own ends) that end will no doubt lead to worse malware, spam, and credit card and other fraud.

    Major reforms are needed.

      • BoBzeBuilder
      • 8 years ago

      Why? Buy an iPod or a Macbook, grab a starbucks coffee and start tweeting or facebooking your everyday life for people to comment on.

      Ah that’s the life.

        • destroy.all.monsters
        • 8 years ago

        Go along to get along has never really been a motto I live by.

        +1 for the sarcasm 🙂

      • indeego
      • 8 years ago

      [quote<]The problem is that social networking would be great - only if there was no profit motive.[/quote<] This is why I'm intrigued by [url=http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2385377,00.asp<]Bittorrent Inc.'s[/url<] potential for a social network that isn't [hopefully] profit/commercially driven. The best social network[s] will have no corporate interests or control at all.

      • NeelyCam
      • 8 years ago

      [quote<]The problem is that social networking would be great - only if there was no profit motive.[/quote<] Maybe we need a government-run social networking site - completely free, no ads, no profit motive. Or a non-profit - operates with donations and contributions from open-source community. Wikipedia seems to work pretty well.

        • derFunkenstein
        • 8 years ago

        Government-run. That’s hysterical. +1 for comedy.

          • OneArmedScissor
          • 8 years ago

          Especially the “completely free” part. :p

            • derFunkenstein
            • 8 years ago

            I just thought that it was amusing from a “Big brother is watching” perspective, myself.

            • UberGerbil
            • 8 years ago

            What makes you think the government isn’t [url=http://www.theonion.com/video/cias-facebook-program-dramatically-cut-agencys-cos,19753/<]doing it[/url<] already?

            • derFunkenstein
            • 8 years ago

            I thought about that as I typed, complete with the Onion link (I believe it was in the TR forums recently, and it’s pretty darn funny to boot), but I elected to maintain a serious tone because the conspiracy theorists, IMO, are even funnier than the Onion.

        • destroy.all.monsters
        • 8 years ago

        A non-profit might be the way to go actually. What I like about both ideas is the possibility of transparency.

        I’m a bit concerned about sharing things with uncle sam though. Probably due to having been in the service. OTOH the corporation for public broadcasting has a good history.

          • FuturePastNow
          • 8 years ago

          There’s Diaspora, which looks great but probably won’t catch on.

            • destroy.all.monsters
            • 8 years ago

            Thanks I signed up for it. Interested to see how it will work.

      • moog
      • 8 years ago

      Google sells our browsing habits and email to corporations too.

        • destroy.all.monsters
        • 8 years ago

        Which is part of my point about the lack of privacy. It’s just that it’s even worse on social networks. If you think I’m saying Google is your friend that’s absolutely not the case.

      • Krogoth
      • 8 years ago

      Protip: Everything going through goes the internet can be “compromised”, the idea of having privacy on the internet is absurd at best. Most people just don’t understand how internet works, let alone understand that their data goes through a number of places where it can be “intercepted” by a would-be spy.

      The only thing that you can do is encrypt the data and make it cost-prohibitive for your spies to snoop.

        • destroy.all.monsters
        • 8 years ago

        Degrees. It’s all about a matter of degrees. Like most things in life.

    • yogibbear
    • 8 years ago

    But can it play Crysis?

    • Sargent Duck
    • 8 years ago

    Wave 2.0?

    • puppetworx
    • 8 years ago

    That advertisement is terrible. It’s dull and looks like the entire product was created for corporate use.

    Oh apart from the ‘Epic Bros’ reference. That should pull in the young crowd, really.

      • TaBoVilla
      • 8 years ago

      can I add you to my ‘Epic Bros’ list? I promise, it’s going to be ‘Epic’

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