Need To Know – Google+ social network project

Google takes on the social-networking world. Again

Well, what is it?

The Google+ project is Google's latest entry into the social-networking arena. The Big G failed miserably with Google Buzz, its Twitter competitor, but will be hoping for more success with this venture.

Is it a Facebook rival?

It would be easy to draw comparisons with Facebook, but Google+ is a bit more geeky and experimental than that – not to mention bitty. It's been split into four main parts: Circles, Sparks, Hangouts and Huddle.

What do those four parts do?

Good question. Circles enables you to group your contacts into circles of friends, so you can share thoughts with a select group of people rather than everyone you know. Sparks is a bit like an RSS reader, giving you a feed of web content for any chosen topic. Hangouts, despite the down-with-the-kids name, is for the business-like act of videoconferencing with up to 10 people. Hey, maybe it will be big with the yoof. Huddle is a bit like Instant Messenger for groups.

When can I start Google+ing?

Doesn't quite work as a verb, does it? Never mind. Google+ has only been made available to a limited number of users, so you'll probably have to wait for it to come out of beta testing. Google says that will be soon, though, and it'll be available through the Android Market, the App Store and, of course, the internet. If you fancy trying to get on the test programme, head to