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Google’s not-too-secret social network finally launches: Google+

It’s been rumored for more than a year, and now it’s here — sort of.  You probably can’t get into it yet, but it’s out there for the world to see and they’ll be adding users to it very quickly.

So what is it?

It’s a lot of things all in one.  Google+ is named because it’s not intended to be a new social network; just lots of small social tools built on top of the Google infrastructure.  It has features that remind me of FriendFeed, and some that remind me of Google Wave, so they’ve got some cool stuff in there. Here is an overview video of how it works:

Circles

Think of Facebook Groups, and you’re off to a good start.  You can drag and drop your contacts (from Gmail or Google Contacts) into Circles in a very intuitive fashion, and it’s very easy to share content with the Circle thanks to the new (black) Google toolbar.

Here’s a quick video showing our Circles work:

Sparks

They’re calling Sparks their “sharing engine”, and it looks quite cool.  You tell it an interest that you have, and Google will find elements on the web related to that.  Find something you like, and you can quickly add it to your interest list (kind of like a bookmark).

Here’s a quick video that shows how Sparks works:

Huddle

This is a group messaging app that works across Android, iPhone and SMS to keep groups in touch with each other.  It’s similar to Beluga and other recent group messaging apps, but could become quite popular as part of the Google+ ecosystem.

Here’s a quick video showing how the mobile apps will work:

Hangouts

This is the part that reminds me of FriendFeed.  You can put up to 10 people in a “hangout” and do stuff together in real-time.  It looks like a really cool way to chat (video or text), and you can even share a piece of content (like a YouTube video) and everyone in the hangout can watch it together.  Perhaps it’ll be cheesy, but it has the potential to be pretty cool.

Here’s a video showing how Hangouts work:

Too much?

Of course, this is a lot to take in all at once.  Google’s plan is to unify it all with the new Google toolbar at the top of the screen, which apparently works quite well.  The level of tie-in to Android/iPhone will be quite important, too, so we’ll see how that works out.

When?

It’s rolling out today in very limited numbers.  As of right now, even people that have invitations to it can’t get in, so the rest of us could be waiting.  Google is intentionally rolling it out very slowly, so it could be a while.  In the meantime, head over the Google+ site and put your name on the list, and let me know if you get access to it.

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Mickey Mellen

Co-Founder and Technical Director

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