More New Features for the Google +1 Button

That was quick. After a few days of testing, the improvements to the Google +1 button are publicly available.

When you mouse over the button, Google shows a list of friends that +1’d the page. The same list is now displayed next to the button if you change the code and select inline annotations. This is the new default option when you generate the code, but not everyone will like it because it takes a lot of space. Google probably chose this option because you’re more likely to +1 a page if some of your friends already did that.

The Google +1 button also lets you share a page to Google+. After clicking “+1”, Google shows a box where you could enter your comments and choose one or more circles. Google shows a title, a thumbnail and a short snippet from the page. By default, they’re automatically generated, but developers can explicitly annotate the page using the microdata or the Open Graph protocol, which is also used by Facebook. At the least, you should add a tag for the image that best represents the page.

Google Takeout in Google 1+

Google wants to differentiate from Facebook by offering a lot of ways to export your data. Google Takeout is a feature that’s included in Google+, but it’s also available as a standalone service. You can use it to export your contacts, Google Buzz messages, Picasa Web photos and Profile data with one click.

“Google Takeout lets you take your data out of multiple Google products in one fell swoop. Moreover, you’ll find that all your data is in portable and open formats‚ so it’s easy to import to other services quickly,” mentions the Data Liberation blog.

I’ve downloaded my data in a huge ZIP archive that included all my Buzz posts saved as HTML files, VCF files for my Gmail groups and the first 100 photos from each of my Picasa Web album. What’s the point of downloading the first 100 photos?

Google +1

Google +1 is yet another attempt to make Google more social. It’s Google’s version of the Facebook “likes”, a simple feature that’s very powerful because it’s part of a social network.

Google will show +1 buttons next to all search results and ads, while encouraging other sites to include the buttons. All +1’s are public and they’re tied to Google Profiles. The goal is to use this data to personalize search results and ads by recommending sites +1’d by your friends. Google Social Search already does this, but there’s no support for Facebook likes, so Google had to come up with a substitute.

“+1 is the digital shorthand for ‘this is pretty cool.’ To recommend something, all you have to do is click +1 on a webpage or ad you find useful. These +1’s will then start appearing in Google’s search results,” explains Google.

This feature is slowly rolled out to, but you can try it by enabling the +1 search experiment.

One thing is clear: Google won’t have to translate “+1” when it will localize the service, but it will have a hard time translating “+1’s”, “+1’d” and other cryptic constructs. Google +1’s URLs already look weird (here’s the homepage:

Your +1’s are listed in a profile tab, where you can manage them. There’s also a page that lets you disable personalizing Google ads using +1’s and other information from your Google profile.

Google now has the most important pieces of a social network (profiles, activity stream, likes, apps), but there’s still no social network, no magic “glue” that connects the existing pieces. As Danny Sullivan explains, the “+1 social network” is made up of your Google Talk friends, the people from Gmail’s “My contacts” group and the people you follow in Google Reader and Google Buzz, but you’ll soon be able to connect other services like Twitter and Flickr. It’s actually a meta social network, an artificial service that won’t have too many enthusiastic users, just like Friend Connect.