At a recent industry conference, Google's former CEO (and current chairman) Eric Schmidt took responsibility for being slow to recognize the importance that social networking could play for Google.
"I was busy," Schmidt said.
But new ambitions come with a new slate. In announcing the service, which is called Google+, the company was careful to manage expectations, describing it as Google+ a "project," while admitting that it still has certain "rough edges."
For the time being, you'll need an invitation to access the service, which is only being extended to a select number of Google users. The service lets users group people within their social sphere into different categories. Google says that those who a person met Saturday night, for example, can be grouped into their own category, while parents can be placed into another. Users can then decide to share only certain information with different Circles.
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In addition, the social service includes a feature called Hangouts that lets users find others that are "hanging out" on the Web. If the user decides to join a hangout, he or she will be able to engage in a video chat with the others. Google+ also comes with an Instant Upload option that automatically uploads all photos and videos from a person's phone to their profile. From there, they can decide who to share that content with.
CNET has more about the new Google service here