Social networking has long been Google's white whale. The company has done plenty of dabbling in the space, releasing Orkut, which has failed to catch on in the US, and rolling out Buzz to the relative indifference of its massive user base. Announced today after seemingly endless leaks, Google+ represents a major push for the software giant. The service began showing itself to a smattering of users last night, as a black bar across the top of various of the company's properties. A "+You" button on the far left of the bar currently brings you to the service's landing page, offering a tour of the many features that fall under the Google+ umbrella. Get to know the services better after the break.
Among the sub-services is Circles, which lets users divide up which of their friends / followers can see which content, assuring that only your "Epic Bros" and not your boss sees what you were up to at last night's bachelor party. Hangouts, meanwhile, offers up multi-person video chat with members of your Circle. Sparks is a customized feed aggregator of content you curate from across the web -- remember when RSS feeds were a thing? This is kind of like that.
There's also, not surprisingly, a mobile element to the service. Huddle offers up group messaging, largely targeted at arranging real-world meetups for those times you actually want to, you know, socialize with humans in the flesh. The Instant Upload feature makes it easy to transfer photos to private albums in the cloud.
Google+ is still in a limited trial mode and has a few "rough edges," according to the company. In the meantime, we want to know what you think. Is Google finally giving Facebook a run for its money? Is this just the latest social flop from the company? Let us know in the comments, and while you're at it, check out a whole bunch of officially sanctioned Google+ videos below.