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Google+: It's friending, with benefits (images)

Google gives social a boost with video chats and groups. Take a visual tour of the new social network with these screenshots.

James Martin
James Martin is the Managing Editor of Photography at CNET. His photos capture technology's impact on society - from the widening wealth gap in San Francisco, to the European refugee crisis and Rwanda's efforts to improve health care. From the technology pioneers of Google and Facebook, photographing Apple's Steve Jobs and Tim Cook, Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg and Google's Sundar Pichai, to the most groundbreaking launches at Apple and NASA, his is a dream job for any documentary photography and journalist with a love for technology. Exhibited widely, syndicated and reprinted thousands of times over the years, James follows the people and places behind the technology changing our world, bringing their stories and ideas to life.
James Martin
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Google gets social, again

Google's latest foray into the waters of social media will be a network-building tool called Google+, which will seek to control information better than other social networks.

Parsing the world of sharing into easier-to-digest pieces, Google+ hopes to build a sort of social intranet, where the right content finds the right people.

Here is a view of the Google+ home screen, showing a main stream of all friends' content down the center column; groups of friends, called Circles, run along the left side; with a user's interests, called Sparks, underneath them, giving recent topical news on those subjects.

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2 of 10 Screenshot by CNET

Integrating content

Google+ will try to bring together all Google's products, including chat, video, and photos.
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3 of 10 Screenshot by CNET

Google+ Circles

Google+ aims to segment a user's social network into more closely defined groups, which they are calling Circles, based on shared interests.
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4 of 10 Screenshot by CNET

Google+ Hangouts

"Hangouts" is an element of Google+ that revisits a classic form of social interaction on the Internet--the chat room, but adds the visual element of video.
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5 of 10 Screenshot by CNET

Google+ Hangouts

Invite your friends to chat, and Hangouts automatically puts the person who is speaking, or speaking the loudest, on the upper window, and shows all other chat participants below.

Here, CNET's Declan McCullagh, Elinor Mills, James Martin, and Jay Greene chat on Google+.

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6 of 10 Screenshot by CNET

Groups watching videos together

In the Hangouts group video chat feature of Google+, participants can watch YouTube videos together. For some unknown reason, when I initiated the YouTube feature, Google presented me with a dozen automatic weapon videos.
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7 of 10 Screenshot by CNET

Google+ on mobile devices

Instant Upload will send photos and video from your phone straight to Google+. For now, the native app is only available on Android devices. However, Google's Web site says any smartphone can access Google+ through the Web app, and that a native app for the iPhone is coming soon.
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Google+ suggestions

Google+ will suggest content it thinks you might like.
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Google+ Sparks

Sparks are topical interests that stream relevant news and articles about your favorite subjects. This Sparks page shows the results for the term "Robotics."
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10 of 10 Screenshot by CNET

Huddle group messaging

Google+'s Huddle feature allows text messages to be sent to a group of people who share a common need, such as making a group decision or setting up a meeting time and place at a restaurant or concert.

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