Wish list for the Google ‘new’ Social network

As you know that Google needs (read – wants to) get a comeback to its original domination in the ‘Social Network’ industry. Google CEO Eric Schmidt  hinted that it may not be a complete social network, but there will be a “social layer” in its existing services (probably better integration).

Why we believe Google can build one and succeed?
Google has a huge base of users who trust it with their privacy when they signed up for the world’s favorite GMail. It has a good ‘spam free’ user base.

This is the first step in getting a great start for any new social networking website, read further to know what are the things that Google already has to pull of “Google Me”.Google Me

Where Google needs to tread carefully
Google faced some initial heat with enabling Google Buzz by default i.e exposed all the user’s contacts without notification and later gave users options to disable/opt-out.
This is where Google has to make sure that the user wishes to connect to people and should be able to limit the data exposed to a public profile.

Google buzz

The wish list – This list is prepared with keeping in line, the data that Google already has or is feasible to. Some of these features could already exist in existing social networking websites like FaceBook, but I here try to put my own spin in them. Read through before judging this post.

  • Non-complex privacy options – GMail paved a new way in introducing a single UI to control a very powerful email inbox. The new UI should be intuitive, allowing the UI to be easily discovered. You’d know what I am talking about if you’re an Avid FaceBook user and once in a while had trouble figuring out the privacy options on how to remove an application or modify an application’s permission(s).
    Facebook Versus Google
  • Place Check-in(s) – Just like the recent FaceBook’s integration with FourSquare place check-in. Google already has tons of business information including their reviews, business contact information and even working hours – They have real people managing most of the venues. A little creativity can roll out a lot of ideas and “money making” ideas. Users (the max % of them) would like some incentive or to be recognized as a privileged customer when they’ve been a “mayor” or at least a frequent visitor to a place, Google (and probably FaceBook too) can pull it off by tying up with famous retailers and restaurant chains.
  • Inline video and voice chat – with increasing number of people going “online” i.e using email and IM as a primary mode of communication instead of a voice call, there is a need for social networks to provide a complete mode of communication(to provide a video and voice chat apart from just text messaging). The web video and voice chat services has proven to be quite cheaper than the usual phone call rates.

    Imagine catching up with a group of people who you went to school after 10 years, Won’t it be totally awesome to get into a group video chat. It’s already got a the technology ready, seen the GMail video chat?
    video chat

  • Threaded public and private communication – Since the time GMail has implemented ‘Conversation View’, it’s practically impossible for us to read emails on the old boring webmail (read as “Yahoo Email”) kind of an interface without conversations clubbed together. FaceBook and other social blogging/networking platforms like Twitter and LinkedIn don’t support threaded replies (it’s a pain, are you reading this?).

    Google has more experience in this space, I am sure it can pull off a Live threaded conversation display with keeping in mind their technology rig and the screen’s  resolution. I loved FriendFeed when it introduced “live” updates to their already awesome conversations display. I used to live chat with “like-minded’” people whenever there were technical conferences that I wasn’t able to make it physically.

  • Easy image/video share and inline video previews – Now you’d think, I am just repeating out some features that we already use in FaceBook or other social networking platforms. Well to an extent, but imagine the data already has & Google can build,
    • it can gather text as well as audio and video responses to the user’s  timeline (they’ve got this technology already implemented in YouTube).
    • already has an amazing technology behind the all famous Picasa Web Albums has facial recognition and has a powerful on-line image edit. It’s just a matter of time for these to be integrated into the “social layer” with enough privacy options to keep the users happy. 
  • Social APIs for building apps and games – When OpenSocial was released there were a lot of users who continued to maintain social networking accounts across different websites and the user share between them was a little even. However in recent times the share of social networking is increasing for FaceBook with new people and the older ones being active in it and ignoring the rest. The relevance of OpenSocial reduces because of this, but it definitely paved a way for creating a common set of APIs which were built in respect to portability, building and scalability.
    Now that can’t go wrong in using for a single Social network right?
    Let’s play some games other than FarmVille for a sec there!
  • Native Mobile apps (iPhone and Android, Java enabled handsets)
    I am with you when you say, it’s a waste of time to build OS specific applications, but hear me out too on why its still a good idea.
    • Apple being a control freak, it’s difficult to get through its approval process –
      It was a control freak, now things are changing and the approval process is a lot transparent now. Apple has done it’s bit, now it’s developer’s time to churn out awesome apps.
    • Web/HTML5 is more powerful/scalable/reachable –
      Most modern browsers (read Firefox, Chrome & Safari) have HTML5 implementations and a large percentage of users (the rest, will you upgrade from using Internet Explorer already!!) have HTML5 already on their desktops and mobile phones, but the web app is just not as good as a native application on a mobile phone.
    Google apps
  • A couple more like
    • Communities (better moderation controls),
    • Developer network (through OpenSocial or a new one)

I know Google has on several extents tried to use web apps to get around Apple’s  appstore restrictions, but its just a something just feels right when you use a native application on a mobile phone.

I completely understand that using HTML5 we can build the exact same UI and functionality using HTML5 APIs instead of investing time on platform specific SDKs, but hey – look at how Titanium Appcelerator which helps in multi-platform application development. It’s time for more platforms like these evolve.

I’ve never used FaceBook’s touch interface on my iPhone and always preferred to use its native application. The native look and feel is just what’s needed for the mobile phone, for desktop PCs – no argument from me web apps are the way to go.

FaceBook is becoming so popular these days, that it’s planning a FaceBook Phone. We already have “Google enabled” phones these days. Why not cash in on the craze? It’s the perfect time.

Got some wishes of your own? Let us know here in the comments.

[Images courtesy – Google, Wikipedia, FriendFeed]

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2 Responses to this post

  1. […] friends that you’ve got a social life and you’re boasting about it. Well, I like it and hope Google has its own too and if you’re in a country where its not launched yet, here’s a tip on how to use Facebook […]

  2. […] friends that you’ve got a social life and you’re boasting about it. Well, I like it and hope Google has its own too and if you’re in a country where its not launched yet, here’s a tip on how to use Facebook […]

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