Google on Tuesday took the wraps off “Google +,” its latest attempt at a social network to rival Facebook’s.In a blog post introducing the service, Vic Gundotra, a senior vice president of engineering, said that current social networking tools lack “the substance of real-world interactions,” because users are forced to either share what they want to share with everyone, or just a very few limited people.
The Google+ Project aims to “fix” that by ripping up the current social networking models and focusing on the individual, their relationships and their interests, Gundotra wrote.
As long-time tech culture writer Stephen Levy writes in an extensive piece documenting the story behind Tuesday’s launch, Google is running scared because it hasn’t managed to gain traction in the social-networking space, after fielding a series of failed projects, like Google Buzz.
The new Google project begins that process with several components that were introduced on Tuesday. One component is going to be its Circles product, which will allow users to choose more granular, specifically-selected networks of friends with whom to share content.
Another is “Sparks,” something that Gundotra calls a an “online sharing engine,” that will be a customized news feed that you’ll be able to share with your friends. Other components include “Hangouts,” an online video conferencing tool, and a photo sharing service.
The new service is currently in its “field trial” phase and is invitation-only at this point. But Google has set up a tour to show how the system works.