Google+ has always felt like kind of an afterthought to me. It always seemed like an attempt by a company known for one thing to half-heartedly get into something else just because it was popular, not because the company had any passion for it.
And yet, Google+ seems to be doing pretty well for itself, at least according to new numbers released by Google Thursday, as it was also announcing two new features for the social media service.
“Today Google+ is the fastest-growing network thingy ever. More than 500 million people have upgraded, 235 million are active across Google (+1'ing apps in Google Play, hanging out in Gmail, connecting with friends in Search...), and 135 million are active in just the stream,” Vic Gundotra, Senior Vice President at Google, wrote in a blogpost.
The social network has indeed shown significant growth. Google+ had previously announced that it had 250 million users, and 150 active users, back in July.
“This enthusiasm, we think, stems from our building tools that build real relationships—in a live hangout, around a breathtaking photo, or with an inner circle of friends. So today we're launching two new improvements that help bring the nuance and richness of real-life sharing to software,” said Gundotra.
The reveal of Google+’s new member milestones came along with the announcement of a new feature being launched Thursday in order to make Google+ more competitive with Facebook.
The first feature is Communities, which essentially acts like Facebook groups. Calling them, “A gathering place for your passions,” Gundorta says that users can create groups, either publicly or privately, regarding any topic, in order for people with similar interests to be able to come together to discuss their shared hobbies.
“From photography to astronomy (and everything in between), Google+ has always been a place to crowd around common interests and meet new people. What’s been missing, however, are more permanent homes for all the stuff you love: the wonderful, the weird, and yes, even the things that are waaay out there,” Gundotra wrote.
Some of the features incorporated into Communities include discussion categories to find the conversations users care about the most. Users can also start hangouts, and plan events with the other members of that group.
Obviously, this is not a novel concept by any stretch. Creating groups for likeminded people to find each other is kind of what the Internet is all about, isn’t it?
But there is one cool thing about Communities: users can also share anything with their Community from any +1 button across the web, meaning that they can post without having to take the extra steps of going to the Community page. That will make it easier and quicker for people to share things across the Web.
Some of the Communities launching today include The Audi Community, Call of Duty Players, Exploration, Space, The Photo Community and Star Wars.
Here is a video put together by Google explaining how Communities work: