Is Google + holding out on its features? A “code junkie” accidentally stumbles upon possibly unreleased Google + features.
According to code junkie Matt Mastracci he was poking around Google + trying to gain access to circle-sharing features when he found yet to be released code which may translate into soon to be released features.
While the meaning of the code is all conjecture at this point, Mastracci postulates the following about his findings. First, there is code which follows in the footsteps of the ever popular question and answer format. “Google Experts” appears to be a function that allows users to ask questions the same way they would post, comment or use threads. Looks like Google+ might be taking a card out of Quora’s book. Matt notes that Google is clearly concerned with making sure the code will work: “it looks like the Google + team is working on ensuring the product works on Google Apps domains. The message that notices you that Google Experts has been enabled has a placeholder for the domain.”
Matt was also able to stumble on a privacy control setting, “I’ve also found the start of a new profile privacy wizard. With a bit of code wrangling, you can get it to pop up on your profile page. The Google+ team is obviously working on matching some of Facebook’s more streamlined privacy controls”. This suggests that Google + is not only learning from Facebook about how seriously people take their privacy, but also from their own mistakes. In 2010, when Google introduced Google Buzz – as social media networking tool that could be integrated into Gmail – there were some major privacy issues which compromised users’ personal information. In particular, there was the issue that Gmail contacts were disclosed in Google Buzz by default, meaning a user who did not disable the feature could release their contacts’ information unknowingly. This caused a major uproar which Google is clearly hoping to avoid this time around.
Finally Google seems like it is adding Google Voice to the platform. While Matt can only speculate about how this might look, he guesses that users will be able to dial people off the web without the use of a phone number.
As Rich Harris at ZDNet points out, “It’s clear that Google is really starting to realize what they are up against. One of their biggest challenges is that they are developing all these technologies in-house. The upside to that approach is that it can be tested and very efficiently integrated into their other product offerings. The downside is that each new feature they add will yield yet another layer of learning curve with no customer base brought in with whatever the new feature is.”
Some places on the web are buzzing with stories revealing how Google + is a failure. Others remain optimistic that Google + will not only outlast criticism but will also become a serious competitor for Facebook. The truth is it’s too early to say whether or not Google + will truly take off with the general population. However, the accidental stumble by Mastracci suggests that Google + still has a few tricks up its sleeve.