I saw two new Google tools today. One of them won’t be available for a little while, and one of them is available right now.
Google+ is Google’s attempt to take on Facebook. It is a social networking venue that appears to address one of the chief concerns that people have with Facebook: that all “friends” are created equal. In Facebook, when you post something, unless you take some specific actions, it is generally visible to all of your friends. Using what it calls “circles,” you can define arbitrary lists of “people” and add them to various circles. When you post and share things, you share them among your circles. So you can safely share some things with one circle that you may not share with others.
It also introduces some pretty cool social networking features using this concept. But one of the coolest is the ability to take pictures from your mobile device and have them automatically uploaded to a private folder in the clouds as they are taken. This takes away the pain of having to upload them yourself, and the photos are then accessible for you to share with your circle as you like.
It doesn’t appear that Google+ is¬†publicly¬†available¬†yet. Right now it is by invitation-only. However, after reading the blog post and watching the accompanying videos, I was pretty impressed by the concept. Duh! Circles! In retrospect it makes a whole lot of sense.
The other tool that Google has introduced is available now. It’s called Google Takeout and it provides a mechanism for downloading an archive file of all of the data that you store on Google: pictures, profile information, streams like Buzz, etc. You choose what you want to download and it will generate a file that you can then download to your computer. This provides a fast an easy way to grab content you’ve stored in the cloud and bring it locally onto your computer.
We know that Google Wave didn’t work out to well, and Google Buzz has only marginal acceptance, but I am impressed with what I have seen of Google+ and I am particularly impressed by the notion of circles. Watch the demo videos if you get a chance and you’ll get a better idea of how the framework will operate. I think this could be a good break for Google in social networking.