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Update: Google+ has been discontinued from April 2019.
Google+ hopes to be a major alternative to Facebook, but the nascent social network is still deciding on some of its key elements.
A member of Google+ can sort acquaintances and friends into Circles, use Hangouts for conversations, and share Sparks with other members. Circles are groups of people such as coworkers or family members. Hangouts invite a group of people into the same text or video chat, and Sparks show people what links, videos, or websites are popular.
The primary advantage of Google+ is its deep integration with other Google services. For example, Picasa albums can be automatically uploaded into a member’s Google+ account.
Although Google’s services and website have been recently redesigned, a majority of the company’s services feature clean designs. Google+ has a simple interface, and users are easily able to find privacy options.
However, Google+ has some rough edges. Some features are still not rolled out, and Google+ is predominantly male. Some female users have remarked that the social network does not include features that they would use. Google+ may need to adopt more female-friendly elements for long-term success.
Although Google+ has deep pockets and interesting features, it remains to be seen whether the social network can attract a critical mass of users. The social network currently has restricted membership, but Google is expected to quickly open Google+ to the public.
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