The ability to share online content with your family and friends is not a new idea, but Google is doing its part to make connecting with people on the web more like connecting with them in the real world. By adding this feature to their already extensive tools like Google Reader, Doc, and Calendar, Google is presenting a way to do it all in one place.

In a market in which this already exists, you might wonder why should someone bother to set up yet another online profile. Taking a further look into what Google+ has to offer, you may want to re-consider.

Google+ Profile

Your profile is a way of representing yourself on the web and on Google products. You can easily manage your information, much like other online profile platforms by writing up a bio, uploading a picture for your profile, inserting contact details and providing links to other sites which you are affiliated with. Your full name and gender are the only details that remain public and you’re able to edit any other information you want to share. There are a variety of tools available to control the privacy of your profile as you can make different sections within your profile public or private.

Circles

Circles works like sharing in real life relationships. In your life you have your friends, coworkers, family and groups, like a running club or volunteer organization. With circles, you can specify what you would like to share and choose who is going to view it.

So maybe that photo of you doing shots at the last big party is something you wouldn’t dare show your mom, but definitely want your buddies to check out. No problem, as you upload your photo you can specify which group you want to share you photo with.

Extended circles are basically the “friend of a friend” concept.  If you choose to share content with extended circles, that content may be visible from someone who is not directly linked to your circle. Let’s say you’re sharing contact with Jen who is in your friend’s circle. Stephanie is in one of Jen’s circle but not directly connected to you. Sharing with extended circles will allow Stephanie to see the same content you shared with Jen. You won’t be able to see a detailed list of people in your extended circles as its frequently changing.

Hangout

The Hang out feature is a way to chill with your friends without even leaving your house. It is particularly successful if you and your friends have web-cams so you can see who’s dropping in and interacts instantly. Starting a hangout indicates your availability and people can drop in at any time. Without having to plan in advance where to meet up, hang outs coordinate you and your friends so that plans can me made on the fly. People can drop by or leave just as they would if you ran into them at a cafe.

Sparks

Using Sparks is another way to share what you’re interested in with your friends. You can search your hobbies, favourite sport teams or the latest Hollywood breakup much like a regular Google search engine. Once you find what you’re looking for, you can then share it with the circles that you’ve previously created. This way you’re guaranteed to share relevant content with the right people instead of posting something that not everyone may be interested in seeing. Who knows, you may even strike up a meaningful conversation about a blog post, video or article that has peaked your interest and starts a dialogue between you and your friends, family or coworkers. Spark gives you a list of featured interests but you can always search for something that may not there. Spark search results are only a piece of the content of that particular article. Clicking on the title will give you access to the entire article or blog post.

+1 Button

Translated, the +1 button is the way of stating ” this is cool, check it out”. It allows you to comment on what you love, agree with or want to recommend to others.  Displayed right from Google search results and Google ads, +1 acts as a virtual bookmark. A way in which you can narrow down your own research about the best bed and breakfasts in cottage country by seeing if your friends have stamped it with their approval, or given their +1.

The +1′s are stored in a separate tab on your Google+ profile and you choose whether you want to share your +1′s, keep them private or use it to manage a record of what you’ve found on the web.  When you select to keep your +1′s private, anyone who accesses your profile will not be able to see you consolidated lists of +1′s. However, since website pages are public, others will be able to see that you’ve +1′d it right on the webpage.  You can also +1 posts or comments in your live stream to show that you’ve enjoyed seeing your brother’s latest vacation photos or a recent friends post about their graduation.

MOBILE applications

Instant Upload

Installed as an application on your smartphone, the Google+ App will instantly give you the ability to share your thoughts and locations, upload photos or videos as you take them, and chat instantly with friends.

Huddle

Making plans just got easier.  Got a last minute request for dinner and a movie? No problem. Huddle lets you coordinate multiple conversations into one large group chat so you’re not wearing out your thumbs by having to contact each of your friends individually. Having instant responses will eliminate any confusion in translating messages back and for the while getting you to your destination fast!

Google+ is still in it’s testing pages so as you come across it you’ll see that some features are not fully enabled with the Test Project version of this online sharing medium.  People are used to logging into several online accounts daily and perhaps this may be on way to finally share your content with all your different connections without having to memorize an abundance of login and passwords. The future of Google+ is yet to be determined, but it is definitely proposing and efficient way to navigate through the web with the ability to share as you go.