Google+ is not really a new service, but rather a new facet of Google’s already-existing services. It is social networking in a new but familiar way, with features that make you wonder “why hasn’t anyone else done this yet?” Google hasn’t said much about Google+ yet, which TechCrunch reports is because while what we can see is impressive, what Vic Gundotra and Bradley Horowitz have planned is much bigger.
The beta isn’t open right now, but if you go to Google+ and enter your email you can be notified when they’re ready for more users. You can also take a tour.
The tour includes five features:
You start with Circles, friend groups created with a drag-and-drop method that spins like a rotary phone, which is cute.
The Hangouts button leads to a multi-user videochat demo, with whoever is speaking (or, the demo notes, speaking loudest) as the largest window in the frame. Google explains that this feature is designed for “unplanned meet-ups,” to chat with whichever friends are online.
Instant Upload is exactly what it sounds like, and they really do mean instant. Your Google+ account will automatically upload photos and allow you to choose who you share them with. The demo involves snapping photographs from a video of a puppy.
Sparks seems like a cross between Google searches and StumbleUpon. It looks like it will be an aggregate of news and websites that Google+ thinks will interest you.
The final feature, Huddle, turns texting conversations into a simple group chat. This is the first indication in the demo that Google+ will be available on smartphones, but the smartphone functionality isn’t really a surprise.