Archive | June, 2011

Is Mark Zuckerberg on Google+? – Mashable

 

Tech journalists aren’t the only ones with early access to Google’s latest social product, Google+. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has also apparently snagged an invite to check out the social network designed to overtake his own.

As Forbes notes, he doesn’t look particularly happy about being there. The hazy webcam shot is a far cry from the smiling photo that graces his Facebook page:

 

He also hasn’t imported any of his interests, noting only that he is male and based in Palo Alto, California. His introduction? “I make things.”

He has at least connected with a number of fellow Facebook employees on the service, but we wouldn’t be surprised if Zuckerberg’s interest in Google+ lasts about as long as his exploration of Twitter.

You can explore his profile — and add yourself to his growing roster of more than 800 followers — here.

via mashable.com

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Google’s Social Network: Google+

Google has finally unveiled Google+, the company’s top secret social layer that turns all of the search engine into one giant social network.

Google+, which begins rolling out a very limited field test on Tuesday, is the culmination of a year-long project led by Vic Gundotra, Google’s senior vice president of social. The project, which has been delayed several times, constitutes Google’s answer to Facebook.

The search giant’s new social project will be omnipresent on its products, thanks to a complete redesign of the navigation bar. The familiar gray strip at the top of every Google page will turn black, and come with several new options for accessing your Google+ profile, viewing notifications and instantly sharing content. The notification system is similar to how Facebook handles notifications, complete with a red number that increases with each additional notice.

At its core, Google+ is a social network. The first thing users are introduced to is the Stream. It’s much like the Facebook News Feed, allowing users to share photos, videos, links or their location with friends.

Circles+

That’s where Google+ begins to diverge from Facebook, though. The focus of this social project is not on sharing with a mass group of friends, but on targeted sharing with your various social groups. To do this, Google uses a system called Circles.

Gundotra explained that most social media services (read: Facebook, Twitter) haven’t been successful with friend lists because they’ve been designed as a “tack-on” product rather than being integrated at every level. Gundotra also believes that current friend list products are awkward and not rewarding to use.

Google+ Circles is an attempt to address that challenge. The HTML5 system allows users to drag-and-drop their friends into different social circles for friends, family, classmates, co-workers and other custom groups. Users can drag groups of friends in and out of these circles.

One of the nice things about the product is its whimsical nature — a puff of smoke and a -1 animation appears when you remove a friend, and when you remove a social circle, it rolls away off the screen.

Photos & Group Video Chat

It’s clear from the extended demo that Gundotra and his team have thought about every aspect and detail of Google+ thoroughly. The photo, video and mobile experiences are no exception.

Google has created a section specifically for viewing, managing and editing multimedia. The photo tab takes a user to all of the photos he or she has shared, as well as the ones he or she is tagged in. It’s not just photo tagging, though: Google+ includes an image editor (complete with Instagram-like photo effects), privacy options and sharing features.

The video chat feature might be one of the most interesting aspects of Google+. Gundotra and his team thought about why group chat hasn’t become a mainstream phenomenon. He compared it to knocking on a neighbor’s door at 8 p.m. — most people don’t do it because it isn’t a social norm. However, if a group of friends are sitting on a porch and you just happen to walk by, it’s almost rude not to say hi.

That’s the concept behind “Hangouts,” Google’s new group chat feature. Instead of directly asking a friend to join a group chat, users instead click “start a hangout” and they’re instantly in a video chatroom alone. At the same time, a message goes out to their social circles, letting them know that their friend is “hanging out.” The result, Google has found in internal testing, is that friends quickly join.

One cool feature of Hangouts is that it doesn’t place a chat window on the screen for each participant. Instead, Google changes the chat screen to whoever is currently talking. It quickly switches from video feed to video feed, moving faster in bigger groups. The maximum members in any video Hangout is 10, though users can get on a waitlist and wait for someone to leave.

Content Discovery Through Sparks

To spur sharing, Google has added a recommendation engine for finding interesting content. The feature, Google+ Sparks, is a collection of articles, videos, photos and other content grouped by interest. For example, the “Movies” spark will have a listing of recent and relevant content for that topic.

The system is algorithmic — it relies on information from other Google products (e.g. Google Search) as well as what is being shared via Google+ and through +1 buttons.

The goal, according to Gundotra, is to make it dead-simple for users to explore their interests and share what they find with their friends. Google+ is attempting to become the one-stop shop not only for sharing content, but for finding it as well. In some ways, it reminds us of Twitter and its mission to become an information network, and “instantly connect people everywhere to what’s most important to them.”

Mobile

Google will also be launching mobile apps for Google+, starting with Android. The Android app includes access to the Stream, Circles, Sparks and multimedia.

The addition of these features in a mobile app isn’t a surprise. What is a surprise, though, is the app’s auto-upload feature. Any photo or video you take on your phone through Google+ will automatically be uploaded to your computer, ready to share. These uploads aren’t public, but the next time you log onto your desktop, the photos button in the status bar will have a number, indicating how many new uploads are available for sharing. It keeps these photos and videos available for sharing for eight hours after upload.

Gundotra says that Google intends to launch apps for Google+ on other platforms in the future.

Conclusion

Google freely admitted to me during our conversation that its previous attempt at social, Google Buzz, did not live up to expectations. Bradley Horowitz, Google’s vice president of product, says that part of the problem was that Buzz was just “tacked on” as a link on millions of Gmail accounts, something that Google won’t be repeating. Horowitz also says that, unlike the Buzz rollout, Google+ is a project that will roll out in stages.

In many ways, it reminds us of Gmail’s rollout. Invites to Google’s email service were so sought after at one point that people were selling them for $50 or more on eBay. While that type of fervor may not hit Google+, we expect the artificial scarcity will drive up interest while giving Google time to work out the kinks.

No matter what Google says, Google+ is the company’s response to the rise of Facebook. The two companies are in heated competition for talent, page views and consumers. While Google controls the search market and has a strong presence on mobile with Android, it hasn’t been able to crack the social nut. Its most successful social product, YouTube, had to be acquired, and it still ranks as one of the most expensive acquisitions in the company’s history.

Has Google finally nailed social with Google+? We’re going to publish more of our thoughts on Google’s new social network in the next few hours, but we will say this: Google no longer gets a free pass in social. It must prove that it can draw users and keep them engaged in a way that doesn’t replicate Facebook or Twitter’s functionality. Only time will tell if Google has finally found its magical arrow.

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Google Calendar Gets a Makeover – Mashable

Google is getting a complete makeover as part of the transition to Google+. Google’s popular calendaring service is no exception.

The redesigned Google Calendar, which rolled out to users on Wednesday, are designed to be “just cosmetic.” Google hasn’t added any new features to Calendar, but instead has made it look more like Google+.

SEE ALSO: Google Launches Google+ To Battle Facebook [PICS]

Some of the changes to Google Calendar include merging the Quick Add button with the Create button, adding more icons for functions such as Print, Refresh, reminders and guests, and the removal of the Save and Discard buttons on the bottom of the page. The big change that users will notice though is the blockier interface, the changes in color and the increased use of white space for the background.

In an announcement, Google says that the changes are all about removing clutter and increasing the interoperability between the desktop and mobile devices.

“The way people use and experience the web is evolving, and our goal is to give you a more seamless and consistent online experience — one that works no matter which Google product you’re using or what device you’re using it on,” the company said.

The search giant recently redesigned its popular homepage with a smaller logo and the darker Google+ navigation bar. Expect more Google products to be redesigned to fit in with Google’s new social project.

To see the revamped look for Google Calendar, click “Try the new look” in the upper right corner of the app. You can always go back to the old way if you don’t like the redesign.

I don’t know about you, but I’m loving the redesign of the entire stable of Google apps.

Google Calendar’s makeover looks awesome and I am personally looking forward to the redesign of some of the other Google products and services.

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Watch Twitter Explode: Google+ Invites Granted To Early Users – TechCrunch

If there’s been a question I’ve been asked more than “do you have any Google invites?”, I can’t remember it. And it’s only been a day! Sadly, I haven’t had any invites to give out. Google has decided they’re going to roll out the network very slowly.

Or that was the plan.

It now appears that early Google users (meaning the one who got access just yesterday) now have the option to invite other people. And as far as I can tell, it’s unlimited.

I realize that by posting this, I’m really asking for it. Gulp.

One big caveat: I have no clue if these invites grant immediate access, or if they’re simply a way for you to add friends you’d like to get invites — then they’ll be added to the waitlist.

Update: As Google’s Bradley Horowitz notes in the comments:

Google has decided they’re going to roll out the network very slowly. Or that was the plan.

Actually, that remains the plan.

We launched Google in a Field Trial in order to test the product out and gather more feedback. As part of the Field Trial, we may open and close Google to new users at any time. We’re psyched so many people are interested in trying out a new approach to online sharing, but please consider:

- At any instant, a given invitation may or may not grant access.
– There are rate limits that are subject to change.
– PRO TIP: Bulk inviting will not be an effective strategy for getting your loved one access. I would recommend inviting those people you really want to share with…

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Can’t Get a Google+ Invite? Try eBay | PC Mag

Google+

If I told you last week that invites for a Google-based social network would be popular and exclusive enough to warrant several hundred eBay listings, would you believe me?

Well, it’s true. The online auction site currently has 255 listings for invites to Google+, a social-networking project Google unveiled earlier this week. The service is now in a “field trial,” so those using it are mostly tech journalists, techies with a connection, or the select few who nabbed an invite before Google shut them down due to demand.

Before you think you’re going to get rich by selling your Google+ invite, though, most of the listings are currently going for less than $5. One seller even has 31 separate listings for Google+ invites, with people bidding between $2 to $4.13.

When asked if this would actually work, given that invites are sent to specific email addresses, a Google spokesman said he was unsure. But if you’re truly desperate to play around with Google+, it appears you’d only be out several dollars if you go the eBay route. EBay did not immediately respond to questions about whether the sales ran afoul of any eBay terms.

Why can’t you get an invite through Google? Perhaps learning from its Buzz debacle, the company said it would roll out Google+ in a more controlled fashion.

“We’ve shut down invite mechanism for the night. Insane demand. We need to do this carefully, and in a controlled way. Thank you all for your interest!” Vic Gundotra, Google’s senior vice president of engineering, wrote in Wednesday night post on his Google+ profile.

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