Google+ readies new features

Google will roll out major improvements in the next three months to Google+, its new social networking service, as it seeks to close the gap with Facebook, the market leader.

Early enhancements will include the incorporation of Google Docs, the word-processing application, which will make collaborating on documents easier “within days”, said Vic Gundotra, senior vice president of engineering, on Wednesday.

That will be followed by deep integration with Google search, the Silicon Valley powerhouse’s most pervasive service, as well the Android mobile operating system, maps and YouTube, Mr Gundotra said at a San Francisco technology conference.

In the longer run, all of Google’s main web offerings “are going to be fundamentally changed by the Google+ graph”, he said in a joint interview later with Google co-founder Sergey Brin.

Users of multiple services will be able to rely on a single system for sharing across Google offerings instead of wondering which the definition of a group such as “family” is in play depending on whether they are using Google+, YouTube or another service.

The men also clarified Google’s position on the use of pseudonyms on Google+, which have thus far been barred but would be prized by activists and others. They said it would be allowed in the future, but that those who use false names might have more limited privileges than others.

The men said they were delighted with the more than 40m users who have registered for Google+ though the figure is still less than a tenth of Facebook’s user base. Though the men would not say how many daily active users the service has, they said Google’s reach allowed them constant opportunities to convince people to come back. “We’re going to give them a reason”, Mr Gundotra said.

Mr Brin said that Google was cleaning up its multiple brands in order to make them less confusing and said that Google+ would be one of the core products going forward.

Whereas in the past the company’s leaders wanted to let “a thousand flowers bloom”, he said “once those flowers bloom, you want to present them in a coherent bouquet”.

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