Google has unveiled a new social network branded as the Google+ project and only available by invitation. The social network is based on ‘Circles,’ which by dividing friends into groups, users can control what they share with each person as well as a ‘Hangout,’ a video chat service. Like Facebook, the social network will allow users to share updates in a stream with invitations, notifications. Google+ will also include ‘Sparks,’ a network for users of similar interests and ‘Huddle,’ group instant messaging.
Google has posted videos for each feature on their blog and said that ‘today, the connections between people increasingly happen online. Yet the subtlety and substance of real-world interactions are lost in the rigidness of our online tools,’ adding that the way we share information online was broken as it was ‘awkward.’
Google is adamant that data will remain the control of the user saying ‘we’re giving you more ways to stay private or go public; more meaningful choices around your friends and your data; and more ways to let us know how we’re doing. All across Google.’
The release has come after rumors from March 2011 surfaced with Tim O’Reilly tweeting ‘I’ve seen google circles, and it looks awesome. Tip of the iceberg too,’ the tweet has since been deleted. Google’s other social attempts include Google Buzz, Orkut and Google Wave, though these are yet to gain much traction from users. However, Orkut is one of the most popular websites in Brazil and India and Google Wave was closed.