In some ways Google isn't unlike the average American. Google's younger days are behind it, the sultan of search loves to be social, and it's put on a few pounds over the years. And like Joe and Sally who joined a gym in January as part of a New Year's resolution to shed some weight, Google goes into the new year looking to slim down by getting rid of love handles like Urchin and Social Graph API.
Google+ and Facebook. One is the largest social network in the universe with more than 800 million members, and the other is, well, Google+. If Google's social playground is ever going to truly challenge Mark Zuckerberg's social amusement park, it's going to have to keep its momentum going. So far it's been doing that. Google co-founder and CEO Larry Page announced yesterday evening that Google+ now has more than 90 million users worldwide, over double what he announced just three months ago.
Google a week ago began rolling out a social search update called "Search, "Plus Your World," which meshes photos, comments, and posts on your Google+ account with your search results. This has drawn the ire of a privacy advocate called EPIC (Electronic Privacy Information Center) concerned over privacy and antitrust issues that could arise from the new search feature.
It was only a matter of time, and now Google has rolled Google+ social results into its search engine in a big way. The new system is called “Search Plus Your World,” and it's the biggest change to Google search in years. The new social search will surface content on the web, as well as on Google+. Everything from posts, to photos, to shared links will be taken into account from here on out.
A metaphorical boxing match between two 800-pound gorillas is quickly shaping up in the social network arena. In one corner: Facebook, the reigning champion. In the other corner: Google+, a fast-rising up-and-comer with a big name and deep pockets behind it. At stake: the time-deprived attention of millions of social network users. There can be only one victor.
Paul Allen is the founder of Ancestry.com, and likes to call himself the unofficial Google+ statistician. Allen has taken to giving the occasional analysis of actual Google+ users, and in the past his analyses have matched up with Google’s official announcements. Today Allen has released his newest estimate of Google+ traffic, and says the social network has passed 62 million users.
Google has let loose with a torrent of updates to its Google+ social network in advance of the new year. Among the improvements are changes to notifications, Pages, and the stream. Some of these are minor, and some are things people have been begging for.
Occupy Wall Street’s protestors have moved on from Oakland and NYC parks; they’ve packed up their beef and taken it to the ‘Net, too. Just one day after Google+ launched its new “Page” functionality for businesses, the Bank of America found its virtual territory occupied by a false profile designed to make them look very, very bad to anybody who happened upon the Page.
There’s no denying that social media has changed the way a lot of people conduct business and relationships. Although, organizing all that valuable data is a major pain. Software developer and former Lifehacker Gina Trapani has been working to change that with ThinkUp, a server-based app that assembles, archives, and analyzes your social life. ThinkUp shed its beta label today as it hit 1.0.
Google has been attempting to quiet discontent over the exclusion of business and brands on the Google+ social network, but no more apologies. Google+ Pages has launched to a small test group, but all users will have the option of creating Pages on Google+ soon. In essence, this isn’t much different than what is done on Facebook, but the people behind businesses and brands have all the Google+ tools at their disposal like Circles, hangouts, +1, and a new Direct Connect feature.