Google has introduced yet another another answer to Facebook, rolling out a social networking "field trial" dubbed "Google+".
Mountain View describes the project as a means of connecting with people online more like you do "in real life".
"We’d like to bring the nuance and richness of real-life sharing to software," reads a blog post from Google senior vice president of engineering Vic Gundotra, the man who oversees the company's efforts to rival the social networking success of Facebook. "We want to make Google better by including you, your relationships, and your interests."
What goes unsaid is the project is also a way for Google to collect more information about what you like and who your friends and acquaintances are – information that can then be used to customize ads and search results. This is why Google is so determined to follow in Facebook's footsteps. Zuckerberg and company have somehow convinced the world to cough up personal information that not even Google has access to.
In an effort to create a viable alternative to Facebook, Mountain View has built Google+ around a platform dubbed Circles, which lets you readily create multiple social networks that operate separately from one another – something Facebook doesn't really believe in.
"The problem is that today’s online services turn friendship into fast food – wrapping everyone in 'friend' paper – and sharing really suffers," Gundotra writes, in a clear reference to Facebook. "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. So we did the only thing that made sense: we brought [these social circles] to software."
On top of this, Google+ offers several sister services, including Sparks (a "news feed"–like service for sharing information with others) and Hangouts (for multi-person video chats). There's also a mobile client that lets you tag posts with your particular location, move photos and videos to and from your phone, and text chat across groups of
friends people you know.
Mountain View is currently testing Google+ among a "small number of people", and if you're chosen for the trial, the company makes a point of saying the services "won't be perfect". You can sign up here to receive an email when the service goes live to world+dog. ®