GT Bulmer | Social Networking GT Bulmer © Affiliate Power Central

Is this the New Internet? Google is introducing a new social networking service called Google+ with such features as Hangouts, Huddles, Circles and Sparks. If not the New Internet, Google+ certainly aims to be a serious contender in the realm of social media.

Google+ is currently in a limited field trial. They are testing the service with a small, select group of people. If you did not receive an invitation, then you are likely not part of the test group.

If Google’s foray into social networking interests you, you can sign up to be included on the list when the Google+ invitations start rolling out again. Visit the Google+ project site and click the “Keep Me Posted” button.

The project site also offers an interactive tour where it explains what Google+ is all about: Real-life sharing rethought for the Web

And exactly what direction does this “re-thinking for the Web” take? Here’s an overview of some of the Google+ features: . . .

The Google+ project

Circles: Every day, each of us shares different things with different people. “But sharing the right stuff with the right people shouldn’t be a hassle,” says Google. Along comes “Circles”, making it easy to keep your groups separate. For example, “putting your boss in a circle by himself!”

Hangouts: According to Google, this is where the unplanned meet-up comes to the Web for the first time. “Let buddies know you’re hanging out and see who drops by for a face-to-face chat.”

Huddles: “Texting is great,” notes Google, “but not when you’re trying to get six different people to decide on a movie.” This feature allows a bunch of friends to get in on a single group chat to streamline the conversation as well as the decision making.

Sparks: This feature collects things like links to videos, articles and other online content that you may be interested in, then keeps it handy for whenever you want to check out something new and interesting.

Instant Upload: Photos you take with your phone get instantly uploaded to your Google+ file: “You don’t even have to say ‘cheese’,” quips Google.

These are just some of the features highlighted on the Google+ project site.

I am not one of the privileged few to have been given inner access to the test site, but a casual review of the introductory details suggest to me that despite what Google says, some of the features are already available in similar forms on other social sites and elsewhere on the Internet. The difference may be in how Google+ presents, integrates and connects the features into a one-stop, easy to manage service.

We will know more as the first group of testers begin broadcasting their experiences, and after the next group gets their invitations.

Until then, why not visit the site, take the tour and see what you think of it? The Google+ Huddles, Hangouts, Circles and Sparks do seem appealing on the surface, but I’d like to know your opinion. So, after you take the tour of the new Google+ social networking service, feel welcome to come back here and post your thoughts and observations.

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