Google is by no means new to social networking services, Orkut, Buzz and Wave are among the companys earlier attempts to enter the social arena. Orkut is the only service that has succeeded in a few countries, but the other services never reached their potential. A lot of people believe the reason is that Google’s engineers do not fully understand the social part of the services. And as most of you know, the company made some significant privacy blunders, especially during the launch of Buzz.

Yesterday, Google unveiled the social networking service Google+, which will summarize what Google has learned from the mistakes so far. Currently it is available only as a project, which is only available for a limited number of invited users, but all indications are that this is a service that will soon be made ​​available internationally.

As in other social networking services, the sharing of information, experiences, pictures, videos and other things is also a big part of Google+. But Google believes that sharing is done too openly and uncontrollably in all competing services. In real life people don’t stand on the square and shout out all their worries and joys to anyone who will listen. People only share it to a limited, select group of people.

This is also the case in Google+, where contacts can be placed in a number of “Circles” that the user creates, for example, one for best friends, one for colleagues, one for family, one for acquaintances, one for classmates and so on. This is quite similar to the “Group” feature that was made available in Facebook last year, but Google’s “Circles” is a more  fundamental part of the Google+ experience.

There are several new features in Google+ that appears to be very exciting. “Hangouts” combines the “casual meetup with live multi-person video”, where all members of a group can join in. It is ment to be a place where people can meet and chat without any other plans than to “hang” with friends. The idea is that the real creativity is coming to life when you are bored.

Another section, called “Sparks”, is what Google call a web-based sharing engine. The idea is that users of Google+ will be able to share links like web pages, images and videos to other users, based on their individual interests and hobbies. The idea is that this content will be a stimulus for further discussion.

Mobile functionality seems to be an important part of Google+. Talk bubbles called “Huddle” is a feature that is available through the Google+ application for Android, while an iOS version is under development. In practice, this is a chat channel for members of the group, where they can write quick messages to all members of the group, for example, to arrange a meeting place.

The Google+ Android application also allows for the pictures and video taken with the mobile phone, to be automatically uploaded to the Google+ user account. Then the user only needs to decide who the content is to be shared with.

An interactive demo of the Google+ project is available here.

It is still difficult to say whether Google is on to something here, as long as the access to test Google+ is limited to only a few users. What is certain is that Google+ is arriving very late for the party, and that the service must have a lot more functionality to offer, and future prospects that are more attractive than those already offered by the competitors.