With the festive season just around the corner and the spirit of sharing entering into our (online) thoughts, Google+ has just added a new community focused feature to its social network, which will “help bring people together to share their interests even more.”
Google+ Communities appears to be the company’s answer to Facebook’s Groups, allowing users to create dedicated communities related to their passions and interests, and connect with like minded people.
The move would seem to be a timely one for Google+, which has, until now, tried, and largely failed at promoting itself as a meeting place where people can discover new things and people. Whilst features like Hangouts, Explore, Circles and trending topics can help users to locate conversations that interest them, the social network has lacked a centralized forum where people can share information, photos, thoughts and beliefs that are specific to a certain theme or topic.
It will be interesting to see if Google+ Communities catches on in the same way that Facebook groups have done. Certainly the potential is there: with more than 500 million registered users, the likelihood that some of these will have common interests is pretty large.
To facilitate the new communities, Google has made them easily accessible. Unlike with Facebook where users need to navigate to a particular group before posting something, it’s possible to post an item on Google+ Communities directly from the Google+ home screen. Simply post whatever it is you want to share, and then select the appropriate community circle to make it appear on the relevant page.
Google+ Communities aren’t quite the same as Facebook’s Groups though. Whilst they possess some of the same hallmarks, one of the main differences is the option to filter the posts within a certain community, according to discussion categories or topics. Other noticeable differences are that the photos appear larger as well, whilst it’s possible to share Hangouts and Events with other community members directly on the page.
And a brand new photo application for Android
In keeping with the spirit of sharing, readers may also be interested to learn of a second new release by Google today. Announced alongside the communities feature is a brand new photo application for Android that will inevitably be seen by some as a potential challenger to the all-powerful Instagram.
Snapseed and its parent company Nik Software were ‘snapped up’ by Google earlier this year, and after several months of development the app is finally ready for takeoff.
“Great pictures aren’t taken, they’re made—and Nik Software has been helping people make awesome photos for years,” explains Google in its announcement, before listing an array of functions which it hopes will entice Android away from Facebook’s own photo app acquisition.
Instagram users will be familiar with Snapseed’s functionality, which includes the ability to make basic alterations to photos, such as cropping, straightening and fine tuning, together with an array of creative filters to enhance the images. In addition, the app allows users to share their photos through the usual set of social media channels, including Google+ and Facebook.