Google has finally launched its long-awaited social network, the Google+ project.
The Google+ network is designed around users' social circles (called Circles) and lets users selectively share with specific groups within their personal network, rather than sharing with all their social connections at once.
The search giant emphasizes Google+'s privacy customizations and hopes that users will choose to use the new service over more established networks like Facebook and Twitter.
"In real life, we have walls and windows and I can speak to you knowing who's in the room, but in the online world, you get to a ‘Share' box and you share with the whole world," Bradley Horowitz, a VP of product management at Google, told the New York Times. By granting the user more control over what is shared, how and with whom, Google+ attempts to make the online sharing experience more secure and more personal.
In addition to +Circles, Google's network will also let users add interests, video chat in groups, share content via mobile and many more features that should be familiar to social network users.
The search giant will integrate its new network directly into its massive web presence to allow users to socialize as they use various Google proucts. Mashable explains how Google will accomplish this:
The search giant's new social project will be omnipresent on every Google product, thanks to a complete redesign of the Google navigation bar. The familiar gray bar at the top of every Google page will turn black, and come with several new options for accessing your Google+ profile, viewing notifications and instantly sharing content at any time. The notification system is similar to how Facebook handles notifications, complete with a red number that increases with each additional notice.
Google is completing its field trial of the network, which is currently open only to a select few. However, you can visit Google+ to sign up, and Google will send you a notification when the service is ready. You can also explore the social network's landing page and to see what new features are in store.
Check out the slideshow (below) to get a taste of the Google + project, then see our guide to 9 things you need to know about the new social network.