Back in September when Techcrunch initially reported about Google’s OpenSocial project, Google’s intention was clear: “Google seems to be planning to add a social layer on top of the entire suite of Google services.” Over the course of the weekend, Google release two relatively significant upgrades to their services: social reader shared items and Google profiles. The two services are extremely basic but are a first step toward a more social Google.
Within Google Reader you can now view each of your friends’ shared items. Google Reader determines who your friends are based on your contacts within Google Talk which also happen to be the same as your Gmail contacts. You can imagine this evolving into a list of your friends’ activities across the web (what photos they’ve uploaded, what friends they’ve added, etc). This is a great service and I have begun reading through my friends’ shared items. It’s also a great way to promote your own content!
The other new feature, Google Profiles, “is simply how you represent yourself on Google products Ã¢â‚¬” it lets you tell others a bit more about who you are and what you’re all about. You control what goes into your Google Profile, sharing as much (or as little) as you’d like.” The new profiles will enable you to extend your personal profiles across all Google services including Blogger, Gmail, Google Talk and Orkut. The profile also lets you link to your content which is distributed across the web.
These two new features being offered by Google confirms that they are taking the social web seriously and have not given up. It will be interesting to see how successful Google is at tying together user activities across a disperse set of product offerings into one centralized profile and activity feed.