As many of you are already aware, Google has decided to throw its (metaphorical) hat into the social media realm. There has been great hype over Google’s newest foray with news outlets both TV and Internet covering the beta release of the new Google+.
Wait, Beta? Yeah that’s right, Google+ is still in a limited release beta which means it may be a little while before we can actually get to play with it. In the meantime, here is what we know.
First, Google+ is separate and distinct from Google +1. Google +1 is a way for you to publicly “like” a link that appears in your Google search.
Think of +1 as Digg but with a social aspect since you can actually see who is recommending pages. If you are interested, Google +1 can also be added to you own web pages by following the instructions here: http://www.google.com/webmasters/+1/button/index.html.
But enough about Google +1, lets move on to Google+!
Google+ is a full fledged Social networking platform with some pretty cool new aspects. Google+ includes all the things you are familiar with from Facebook, like friends and status updates (for likes see the info on +1 above), with some new twists such as Circles for easily grouping your friends, Sparks for keeping you apprised of things you are interested in, and Hangouts for easily accessible video chat. First impression reviews, such as these from Mashable: http://mashable.com/2011/07/01/google-the-pros-cons/ and http://mashable.com/2011/06/28/google-plus-review/, have been fairly favorable with many agreeing that Google has a viable candidate for the Social Media market.
No self respecting Social Media site would be without an app for mobile devices and Google+ is no exception. As Android is a native Google product the app for android has already been developed, however the iOS compatible apps should be coming soon.
While all of this is interesting why should we in Higher Education care? GigaOM recently published an article entitled “Why Google+ could find a home in the workplace” and it seems that many of the reasons identified in this article would make Google+ a great candidate for Social Networking on a college campus. The ability to sort your connections into Circles will make forming study groups and keeping in touch with your peers easier than ever while keeping those connections separate from your Circle of inner friends.
Currently Google+ is in a soft launch beta meaning that participation is by invite only. We here in the ATC are awaiting invites, so look for a follow up post with more info at a later date!