Google on Tuesday finally took the wraps off of its answer to the social steamroller that is Facebook, and it’s called Google+. While Google has launched numerous social products in the past, Google+ is the Internet giant’s most comprehensive offering to date. It is largely an effort to play catch-up, of course — since Google has a lot of catching up to do — but the service also offers some nifty innovative elements that could appeal to users who navigate away from Facebook long enough to check it out. Key features include Circles, which allow you to group contacts together in various social circles and share things only with the particular circles you chose; Sparks, which are topics similar to Twitter hashtags; and Hangouts, which are video chat rooms. There is also a mobile element to Google+, and for the time being it focuses on text updates, photo and video sharing, and… you guessed it… location. Google+ is currently in private beta. A handful of videos covering the key elements of Google’s new service can be viewed below.

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Zach Epstein has worked in and around ICT for more than 15 years, first in marketing and business development with two private telcos, then as a writer and editor covering business news, consumer electronics and telecommunications. Zach’s work has been quoted by countless top news publications in the US and around the world. He was also recently named one of the world's top-10 “power mobile influencers” by Forbes, as well as one of Inc. Magazine's top-30 Internet of Things experts.