So what is Google+ like? And why would you want to invest the time and effort to create another social network if you’re already using Facebook and Twitter?
Google is betting that its approach to privacy and extensive controls over who you share information with on the network will set Google Plus apart.
The service revolves around a concept of “circles,” (presumably not the same circles that Dante visited). You can create as many circles as you like, for whatever categories you want: for example family, co-workers or biking friends. Above the circles are a slew of thumbnail images of friends and contacts which Google suggests you might want in your social network. To add a person to one of your groups, drag the name into a circle.
If you decide to remove someone from a circle, you simply drag their image out of the circle, at which point the image will explode into a cloud of smoke – one of several whimsical touches in Google+.
To use Google+ you need to create a Google profile. At the very minimum, Google requires that you use your real name and include a photo. Beyond that, you can furnish the profile with as much, or as little, detail about yourself as you want.
You can control how much of your profile is visible to other folks on the network: your name and occupation for some folks; relationship status for others. Type a person’s name into a box, and you can see what your profile looks like through their eyes.
In a sense, Google+ combines the Facebook and Twitter models of social networking: You can have friends in your social network with whom you share information, and you can also simply follow certain people, say a movie critic who you don’ t know personally, a la Twitter.
Google is referring to its new service as the Google+ Project
Right now the service is only available as a “field trial” to a limited number of people. Since social networking success depends on critical mass, it seems likely that Google will open the service up to more people sooner rather than later.
So in the coming months we could have a better indication as to whether Google has finally cracked the code for success in the social networking market.