Google+ to challenge Facebook for the social networking crown

Google+ looks to challenge Facebook

Tasked with making “sharing on the web more like sharing in real life,” Google has unveiled its response to the social networking behemoth of Facebook.

Called Google+, the service – which is currently at the invite-only stage – mixes up Facebook and Google Buzz features, along with new functions which it hopes will add up to a compelling package.

Rough edges

It’s still very much at the ‘unfinished project’ stage, but Google has released six slick and serendipitous videos to show off some of the new features – and so far we’re impressed.

Mobile app

A Google+ app has already been  made available on Android Market and the mobile web, and Google say that it’s coming soon to the App Store.

Here’s some of the features of the mobile app:

* Circles let you share the right things with just the right people.
* Stream is where you can get updates from your circles or see what people are saying about things nearby.
* Instant Upload automatically uploads videos and photos to your own private album in the cloud, to make sharing a snap.
* Huddle is super-fast group messaging for everyone in your circles.

Sign up

You can sign up up here to get involved in the project, but at the moment we’re getting a 500 error.

Early hands on – it’s a winner!

The folks at Mashable have managed to have a quick play with the new service and have posted up their thoughts:

Google+ is a bold and dramatic attempt at social. There’s a reason why Google calls this a “project” rather than a “product” — they don’t want people to think of this as the final product, but as a constantly-evolving entity that permeates every corner of the Google empire.

Overall, Google+ is solid. But I’m not going to call it a Facebook killer or a game-changer. The last time I said that about a Google product, I got burned. Perhaps that’s why Google’s rolling this out slowly via invites, the same style Gmail used to release itself to the world.

I will say this, though: if Google can convince users to come back every day, it has a winner. But the company will have to do even more to provide a truly compelling alternative to Facebook. At the moment, Google+ cannot compete with the king of social, but Google doesn’t seem to be in a hurry to take on Mark Zuckerberg’s giant quite yet.

Update – the mobile app also delivers!

Engadget have tried out the beta iOS app and are feeling the love:

Google, naturally, is also making a big mobile push here, as well. Android gets the first crack at the service, with the app currently available in the Market. An iPhone version of the app is apparently on the way, as well — for the time being, however, iPhone users can access the page through Safari. The Huddle group messaging feature — one of the biggest selling points of the mobile version — doesn’t seem quiet ready for prime time, either.

When the news of Google+’s arrival broke today, we called the service an “all out assault on social networking,” and after playing around with it for a bit, the description seems even more apt. Past services like Buzz have suffered from a half-baked approach to the space. Google has clearly pulled out all of the stops this time, with direct shots at some of the leading market software (Facebook, Skype). As ever, the company has created a smooth, largely intuitive, and enjoyable experience. Now comes the hardest part: convincing people that they need another social network in their lives, because without friends, you’re just hanging out by yourself.

Promo videos

[Google Blog]