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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    “Google+: pluses, minuses”

    Google’s newest project, Google+, is either Facebook’s worst nightmare or another half-baked attempt at moving into another giant’s territory.

    The new social network is only open to a select few for now, but the demo website, www.google.com/+/demo, is certainly worth checking out. So far, it looks like Google+ will be a mix of Facebook and Twitter. But of course, people already have Facebook and Twitter, so there are a few extra features thrown in.

    Some of these extras are relatively basic, like its “”Instant Upload,”” which automatically puts pictures and videos from your phone into a private album online. Of course, Google doesn’t specify which phones will support this, but smartphones are the most likely answer.

    Then, there are Google+ “”Huddles,”” group chats that you can have on your phone. I’m guessing that you can also huddle over the website, but the appeal of being able to do it on your phone is the real hook. Google’s example shows five friends trying to decide where to eat, and instead of having five individual conversations about it, they just share one. It’s nothing too fancy, but it could simplify the communication process.

    Another cool way Google+ has improved communication is their “”Hangout”” feature, which allows you to video chat with large groups of friends who can come and go as they please. This one, however, looks like it could get messy. With seven people all video chatting at the same time, that’s not only going to be unwieldy when it comes to not talking over each other, but it will also be a lot of work for your computer. Still, it is as close to hanging out as anyone will get over the Internet (until we invent the Matrix).

    Google+ also offers “”Sparks,”” a list of interests that Google uses to track down articles and news that might interest you — almost like auto-Googling. But it may be worthwhile to question whether or not these interests are made public or not. We all have embarrassing habits that, while it would be nice to keep up on them, don’t need to be put on blast. The site also utilizes “”Circles,”” an easy way to divide your friends into groups. That’s already been done though, since Facebook allows you to make different groups among your friends. You can use these “”Circles”” to control who can view your posts or not. This prevents your boss from accidentally stumbling upon your raging party photos, and more importantly, comes in handy for posting those statuses about you-know-who that you don’t want them to see. Finally, a more effective way of talking behind each other’s backs in public.

    While these features are fairly promising, Google+ faces one big problem: Who wants to go through the process of tracking down all of your friends again? It will be hard to pull established Facebook users away from the pages that they’ve already put years (potentially) of effort into.

    In the end though, I know that I’ll be giving Google+ a shot once it goes public, and from the looks of things, I just might stay there. And regardless of whether it catches on or not, Google+ will definitely be good for one thing — competition. If Facebook wants to stay relevant in the face of this new site, Google+ may challenge them to be more innovative.

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