Today Google announces a new suite of social tools, Google+, which includes five products: Circles, Hangouts, Instant Upload, Sparks, and Huddle. Google+ is what we were calling “Google Me” last summer. The easiest way to see what each product does is to take this tour.
- Circles is a way to silo your friends by your relationship to them, i.e., the “real life” social network.
- Hangouts is group video chatrooms. You indicate you’re “hanging out” and available to talk to certain friends, and they hop in if they want.
- Instant Upload sends photos directly from your phone and shares them with the people you choose without having to tap through several sharing app buttons and controls on your device.
- Sparks appear to be saved searches for relevant web content with easy ways to share with your friends. Sounds like a social custom Google News or Google Alert.
- Huddle is a group texting product. You’re making lunch plans with 4 people, and Huddle lets you text everyone at once.
Steven Levy’s epic Wired piece describes Google’s motivations and processes behind building Google+; Dave Winer yawns. Personally I’m thrilled to see Google take on some of the harder problems around social, and I look forward to trying Hangouts and Circles in particular. While Google’s track record around social products doesn’t bode well for them, I’ll reserve further judgement until I get a shot at field-testing Google+. How about you?