Google+: Are you in the Circle?

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Clint Heinze -- Google+ joins the world of social networking

Google is taking over the Internet one creation at a time.

In late June of this year, Google began slowly releasing their new social networking service, Google+.

However, Google+ was not open to everyone. A user’s access to the site was purely based upon their ability to receive a Google+ invite. Current users that are already on the site can now send invites to others who have Gmail accounts.

The Google+ tour said, “For now, we’re launching with what we call a field trial period, an invitation-only approach to help smooth out the rough edges as we start the project. Please bear with us if you’re not able to start using Google+ today.”

Upon signing up, Google+ starts a tour of what it offers as a social networking service.

The service is similar to Facebook in the sense that one is able to add friends to their page and share their life with them. However, there are quite a lot of differences.

Google+ allows you to organize your friends into “Circles.” By placing friends into different Circles, one can choose who can see what appears on their profile. This applies to feed updates from friends and one’s self, as well as what is listed on their page.

The default Circles are friends, family, acquaintances and following. Users can also customize their profiles to include custom-made Circles. This way one can respectively share with only the people that they want to share with at that time.

Circles are private. Users cannot see what Circles other users have placed them in. One’s friends can see who is in their Circles or whose Circles they are in, but cannot tell who is put where.

Google+ also makes it easy to share what one is interested in with the people in their Circles. Spark is a feature of the site that allows you to add what one is interested in, which makes browsing more manageable.

Spark looks for videos and articles according to the things the user likes, so there will always be something to read, watch or share.

The site also offers users a selective variety of browser-based games. Most games are not time consuming as they only last one minute in length.

Users can also host “Hangouts” with people within their Circles. Hangouts are multiple user video chats, similar to Tinychat or multiple person Skype chats. Anyone in the chat can post the link to a hangout in his or her feed.

These Hangouts are not limited to the creator of the Hangout, and the creator does not have to be present to keep the Hangout going. Once everyone has left the Hangout, it closes. There is one catch: only ten users can be in a Hangout at a time.

Users can Gchat with one person, as well, just like in Gmail. This includes video chatting with a friend as well as instant messaging.

Google+ has gained popularity in the short period of time it has been around, and they are not even finished yet.

“We’re just getting warmed up and we’re already pretty excited about what’s coming next,” the Google+ tour said.

 

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