Google is a lot of things, and the company has managed to dominate many markets. However, it is definitely not a social networking site, and it hasn't even been able to break the market, never mind make any kind of significant play for it.
Still, you can't say Google isn't having a fair crack at. Despite the fact that Google Buzz was a privacy failure and Orkut was only really popular in South America, the company today revealed another social effort, dubbed Google+.
Google+ involves several services including group video chat (Hangout), the ability to share content with specific groups of friends (Circles), a content aggregator that serves you content and links you'll like based on your interests (Sparks), group messaging from your mobile (Huddle), the ability to instantly upload photos and organize into private albums (Instant Upload), and the option for location tagged posts (Location).
Google admits that everything is still little rough around the edges at this point. The company is also only testing the service in limited beta and is currently full up. You can still register your interest here, though, and you'll receive email updates on when the service is set to go live. If you want to explore Google+, head on over to plus.google.com. Alternatively you can check out all 10 (ten!) of the Google+ tour videos below. Don't you just love when someone does all the leg work for you?
Here's a quick introduction into what the Google+ Project is all about:
Here's more about how Circles, the tool that allows you to create different groups to share different content with, works:
This is Sparks, the aggregator that pulls content from the web and presents you with links you'll likely find interesting based on interests you yourself have provided:
Here's more about Hangouts, the feature that allows you and a circle of friends to 'hangout' via videochat:
Want to know more about how Instant Upload works? Check it out below:
Of course, a big part of the Google+ Project is mobile interaction. Learn all about that here:
Here's some more on Huddle, the app that allows you to message groups of friends all at the same time:
Last, but certainly not least, Google has put together a quick rundown of how Google+ settings work and what aspects you can control in an effort to appease those worried about privacy: