May 4, 2012

Sprinkle Some "+" Into Your News


Great news for Google... News! Everyone's favorite search engine is flexing its social muscle by adding significant Google+ integrations to its news service. Be amazed as you witness relevant Google+ posts from your friends, celebrities, and experts appear right beside the news story you're fancying. What a day we live in.

Google announced today via a blog post that it will be turning its news aggregator at news.google.com into a more social affair, courtesy of its shiny new social network. They're adding a feature called "Realtime Coverage" that will give you up-to-date information about the stories you're interested in. Relevant Google+ posts will appear in an auto-updating stream to the right of the article. You even have the option to write a quick post of your own without leaving the news page.

This update is accompanied by Google bringing in larger photos to the News stream.


It looks like Google is serious about making "Plus" the social layer for all of its products. Google+ is already creeping into Gmail. It has all but taken over Picasa Web Albums. It is powering the social features in Google Reader. It is providing automatic photo uploading to Android devices. It has replaced the old Blogger profiles. And it has become your social identity on YouTube.

Say what you will about the Google+ engagement numbers. The comScore figure of 3.3 minutes per user per month could not be more misleading. comScore acknowledged that, first of all, their data does not include mobile usage. Given Google's push into mobile, this is a big oversight. Second, comScore excludes any Google+ usage outside of plus.google.com. To do so is to ignore the whole purpose of this social tool. Gogle+ was not created to be a destination, like Facebook. It was created to transforn Google from a scattered collection products to a single unified social experience.

Like it or not, as long as you have a Google+ account, whenever you use any Google service, you are using Google+. We don't think of a social network as providing us with email access, document editing, or video publishing. But they are all part of the Google+ experience now. Every time you send an email, update a contact, upload a video, do a search--you are using Google+. Google usage and Google+ usage cannot be separated out without using some arbitrary definition of what a social network should be.

The Google News update will be rolling out to U.S. readers over the next week. No news yet on the international front. To enjoy these enhancements, you must be logged in and have a Google+ account.