Internet search giant Google has launched a new social networking service designed to rival Facebook, in the company’s latest attempt to claim a slice of the social media market.
The new system, called Google+, allows users to group lists of friends into “circles” and communicate with them across the entire Google platform.
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Google+ comes just months after the company abandoned its first major social networking venture, Google Buzz, which was shut down last year.
Vic Gundotra, Google senior vice-president for engineering, described online sharing as “awkward” and “broken” in a blog post, claiming Google aimed to “fix” it.
Gundotra said Google+ allows users to separate online friends and family into different networks, and to share information only with members of a particular circle.
“We’d like to bring the nuance and richness of real-life sharing to software… Not all relationships are created equal,” Gundotra wrote.
“The problem is that today’s online services turn friendship into fast food – wrapping everyone in ‘friend’ paper – and sharing really suffers.”
Google unveiled several new tools integrated into Google+, including “Hangouts”, which allows for video chatting among friends, “Mobile” for location-sharing, and “Huddle” for group text messaging.
Photos and video can be uploaded and shared among circles using an “instant upload” feature, while an online sharing engine called “Sparks” delivers content from the web into a user’s feed.
Google+, located at plus.google.com, is currently being tested by a select group of people, but Google said in a statement it won’t be long before the service is ready for everyone.
While Google+ is currently off limits to most users, Reseo chief executive Chris Thomas says he quite likes the concept.
“Google has millions of people who use their products, but they have never been good at bringing those people together. Google Buzz was an attempt at that, and it didn’t work, so perhaps this is the second attempt to network in a cohesive way,” Thomas says.
Google+ makes its debut as Google and Facebook wage a fierce battle over online advertising dollars and how people navigate the internet. Google does not direct users to Facebook and vice versa, and both companies are seeking to become the chief gateway to the internet.
In May, Facebook was left red-faced after acknowledging it had hired a public relations firm to draw attention to privacy practices at Google.