Google+

Google+, sometimes written as Google Plus or simply G+, is an Internet-based social network owned and operated by Google. The network launched in June 2011 in an attempt to challenge other social networks such as Facebook and Twitter and it is designed to link Google's products like YouTube.

The service, Google's fourth foray into social networking, experienced strong growth in its initial years, although usage statistics have varied, depending on how the service is defined. Three Google executives have overseen the service, which has undergone substantial changes leading to a redesign in November 2015.

On April 2, 2019, Google+ will be shut down for consumers.[4] The company cited low user engagement and disclosed software design flaws that potentially allowed outside developers access to personal information of millions of users.[5] The Google+ developer API was collectively shut down on March 7, 2019.

Google+
Google+ logo
Type of site
Social networking service
Identity service
Available inMultilingual
OwnerGoogle LLC
Created byVic Gundotra,
Bradley Horowitz
Websiteplus.google.com
CommercialYes
RegistrationRequired; unavailable as of February 4, 2019
Users111 million active users[1] (2015)
LaunchedJune 28, 2011,[2] replaced Google Buzz
Current statusActive (Inactive starting April 2, 2019)
Written inJava and JavaScript[3]

History

Creation

Google+ is the company's fourth foray into social networking, following Google Buzz (launched 2010, retired in 2011), Google Friend Connect (launched 2008, retired by March 2012), and Orkut (launched in 2004, as of 2013 operated entirely by subsidiary Google Brazil – retired in September 2014[6]).

Google+ launched in June 2011. Features included the ability to post photos and status updates to the stream or interest-based communities, group different types of relationships (rather than simply "friends") into Circles, a multi-person instant messaging, text and video chat called Hangouts, events, location tagging, and the ability to edit and upload photos to private cloud-based albums.[7][8]

According to a 2016 book by a former Facebook employee, some leaders at Facebook saw Google's foray into social networking as a serious threat to the company. Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg instituted a company-wide "lockdown", signaling that employees were supposed to dedicate time to bringing Facebook's features into line with Google+.[9]

Growth

Assessments of Google+ growth have varied widely because Google first defined the service as a social network,[7] then later as "a social layer across all of Google's services", allowing them to share a user's identity and interests.[10] According to Ars Technica, Google+ signups were "often just an incidental byproduct of signing up for other Google services."[11][12][13] Consequently, the reported number of active users on Google+ grew significantly, but the average time users spent on the site was a small fraction of that on comparable social media services.

In 2011 Google+ had 10 million users two weeks after the launch.[14] In a month, it had 25 million.[15] In October 2011, the service had 40 million users, according to Larry Page.[16] According to ComScore, the biggest market was the United States followed by India.[17] At the end of 2011, Google+ had 90 million users.[18] In October 2013, approximately 540 million monthly active users used the social layer by interacting with Google+'s enhanced properties, such as Gmail, the +1 button, and YouTube comments.[19] Some 300 million monthly active users participated in the social network by interacting with the Google+ social-networking stream.[20][21][22]

Google+'s user engagement was lower than that of its competitors; ComScore estimated that users averaged 3.3 minutes on the site in January 2012, and 7.5 hours on Facebook.[23][24] In March 2013, average time spent on the site remained low: about 7 minutes, according to Nielsen, not including traffic from apps.[25] In February 2014, The New York Times likened Google+ to a ghost town, citing Google's stated 540 million "monthly active users" and noting that almost half did not visit the site. The company replied that the significance of Google+ was less as a Facebook competitor than as a means of gathering and connecting user information from Google's various services.[26]

Changes in management and product direction

In April 2014, Vic Gundotra, the executive in charge of Google+, departed the company[27] with management responsibility going to David Besbris. By March 2015, Google executive Bradley Horowitz, who had co-founded Google+ with Gundotra, had replaced Besbris, becoming vice president of streams, photos, and sharing.[28]

In an interview with Steven Levy published on May 28, 2015, Horowitz said that Google+ was about to undergo a "huge shift" that would better reflect how the service is actually used. By that time, two core Google+ functions, communications and photos, had become standalone services.[29][30][31] Google Photos, Google's photo and video library, was announced at the May 2015 Google I/O conference.[32] Google Hangouts, Google's communications platform, was announced two years earlier, also at Google I/O. Google subsequently refocused Google+ on shared interests, removing features not supporting "an interest-based social experience". The company also eliminated the Google+ social layer; users no longer needed a Google+ profile to share content and communicate with contacts. The transition began with YouTube, where a Google+ profile was no longer required to create, upload, or comment on a channel, but a Google+ page was instead required. YouTube comments no longer appeared on Google+ or vice versa.[33][34][35][36]

Redesign

On November 18, 2015, Google+ underwent a redesign with the stated intent of making the site simpler and faster, making the new features of Communities and Collections more prominent, and removing features such as Hangouts integration, Events and Custom URLs, though Events and Custom URLs were eventually added back.[37][38][39] Until January 24, 2017, users accessing the site using desktop computers could access some of the discontinued features by selecting option "Back to classic G+".

Shutdown of consumer version

On October 8, 2018, Google announced it would be ending the consumer version of Google+ in August 2019, later changing that date to April 2nd, 2019.[40][41] The company cited low user engagement and difficulties in "creating and maintaining a successful Google+ that meets consumers’ expectations", noting that 90% of user sessions on the service lasted less than five seconds. It also acknowledged a design flaw in an API that could expose private user data. Google said it found no evidence that "any developer was aware of this bug, or abusing the API" or that "any Profile data was misused."[42]

According to The Wall Street Journal, the data exposure was discovered in the spring of 2018, and was not reported by the company because of fears of increased regulatory scrutiny. The newspaper said that "the move effectively puts the final nail in the coffin of a product that was launched in 2011 to challenge Facebook, and is widely seen as one of Google's biggest failures."[43]

On December 10, 2018, Google reported that a subsequent Google+ API update exposed customer data for six days before being discovered, again saying there was no evidence of any breach. The bug allowed outside developers access to personal information of users. Over 52.5 million users were affected.[44] The company moved the service's shutdown date to April 2019 and said it would "sunset all Google+ APIs in the next 90 days."[45]

User demographics

Google+'s user base was roughly 60% male and 25% female as of November 2013, and 15% "other" or unknown.[46] Early adopters of Google in mid-2011 were mostly male (71.24%), and the dominant age bracket (35%) was between 25 and 34.[47] An August 2011 survey estimated that 13% of U.S. adults had joined Google+.[48]

Features and functions

User profile

A Google+ User profile is a publicly visible account of a user that is attached to many Google properties. It includes basic social networking services like a profile photo, about section, cover photo, previous work and school history, interests, places lived and an area to post status updates.[49] It also includes several identity service sections, such as a contributor and other profiles area that let one link their "properties across the web". These sections optionally link to other social media accounts one has, any blogs one owns or have written or sites one is a contributor to. This area is used for Google Authorship.[50][51] Customized or Vanity URLs were made available to the public starting on October 29, 2013 to any account that is 30+ days old and has a profile photo and at least 10 followers.[52] Google removed author photos from search results in June 2014[53] and in August 2014 Google has stopped showing authorship in search results, both photo and author name.[54][55]

Circles

Circles is a core feature of the Google+ Social Platform. It enables users to organize people into groups or lists for sharing[56] across various Google products and services. Organization of circles was done through a drag-and-drop interface until a site redesign in 2015 reduced it to a simple checkbox interface.[57] Once a circle is created, a Google+ user can share specific private content to only that circle. For example, work themed content can be shared with only colleagues, and one's friends and family could see more personal content and photos. The option to share Public or with Everyone is always available.[58] Users were originally able to create Shared Circles, a one-time share to promote a circle of individuals, but the feature has been removed.

Another function of Circles is to control the content of one's Stream. A user may click on a Circle in the Circle Streams list and the Stream portion of the page (the center) will contain only posts shared by users in that Circle. For the unsegmented Stream (includes content from all of a user's Circles), each Circle has a drop-down configuration item with four options: none, fewer, standard, and more. The none position requires the user to select (click on) the Circle name explicitly to see content from users in that Circle. The remaining positions control the quantity of posts which appear in one's main Stream, but the algorithm controlling what shows has not been disclosed.

Stream

In the "Stream", which occupies the main portion of the page, users see updates from those in their Circles and posts in Communities they have joined. There is a compose button which allows users to create a post. Along with the text entry field there are icons to upload and share photos and videos, and create a poll. The Stream can be filtered to show only posts from specific Circles.

Identity services

Starting in November 2011, Google+ profiles are used as the background account for many Google services including YouTube, Gmail, Google Maps, Android, Google Play, Google Music, Google Voice, Google Wallet, Google Local and more.[11][12] As of January 10, Google Search is customized with a feature called Search Plus Your World, which inserts content shared on Google+ profiles and brand pages under Web Search results, if one is logged into their Google+ account while using it.[59] The feature, which is opt-in, was received with controversy over the emphasis of Google+ profiles over other social networking services. The feature builds upon the earlier "Social Search" feature which indexes content shared or published by authors; "Social Search", however, relied partly upon returns from non-Google services, such as Twitter and Flickr. Google and Twitter had a contract that expired in July 2011 which is the reason Tweets are no longer shown.[60]

Privacy

The privacy setting allows users to disclose certain information to the circles of their choice. Users can also see their profile visitors.[61]

+1 button

Google+ has a "+1 button" to allow people to recommend sites and posts, similar in use to Facebook's Like button.[62]

Google+ Pages

Google+ Pages was released on November 7, 2011 to all users, which allows businesses to connect with fans.[63][64][65] It allows entities which are not individuals (such as organizations, companies, and publications) to set up profiles, or "pages", for the posting and syndication of posts. It is similar to Facebook Pages.

Google+ Badges was quietly introduced to select enterprises beginning November 9, 2011 and officially released to the public on November 16.[66] Badges are sidebar widgets which embed "Add to Circles" buttons and drop-down lists into off-site websites and blogs, similar to Facebook's Like Box widgets. This was officially treated by Google as a replacement for the older Google Friend Connect and its widgets, and GFC was announced by Senior Vice President of Operations Urs Hölzle on November 23, 2011, as scheduled to be retired by March 12, 2012 on all non-Blogger sites in favor of Google+ Page Badges.[67]

Google+ Views was introduced on April 1, 2014. It features a "view counter", which is displayed on every user's profile page. The view counter shows the number of times the user's content has been seen by others, including photos, posts, and profile page.[68] This feature was later removed in favor of an insights feature.[69]

Communities

Google+ Communities was released on December 6, 2012. This allows users to create ongoing conversations about particular topics.[70] Google+ Communities can also be created and managed under Google+ Page accounts.

Events

Events allow users to invite users to share photos and media in real time. This was removed from Google+ as part of the November 2015 redesign, but later added back in a different location. Events can now be found from the user's profile.[39]

Discover

The Discover page shows trending posts and articles on Google+ and around the web.[71] It is similar to the What's Hot page that was removed as part of the November 2015 redesign.

Google Local

On June 11, 2014, Google combined Google Places and Google+ Local Business Pages with the Google My Business product. The product uses the interface of Google+ but has many more features including insights and analytics.[72] On May 30, 2012, Google Places was replaced by Google+ Local, which now integrates directly with the Google+ service to allow users to post photos and reviews of locations directly to its page on the service. Additionally, Google+ Local and Maps also now feature detailed reviews and ratings from Zagat, which was acquired by Google in September 2011.[73]

Photography

Original (left) and with Auto Enhance applied (right)

MotorolaCanada
MotorolaCanada2
AMDExtravaLANza2012AutoAwesome
An animated gif created by Auto Awesome.
  • Google+ Creative Kit was an online photo editor integrated to Google+ on October 27, 2011,[74] similar to Picnik, integrated earlier to Picasa Web Albums. This feature was removed from Google+ in 2015.[75]
  • Auto Awesome: Released at Google I/O in 2013, the feature applied special effects, manually (with Android) or automatically, often using multiple sequential shots. Effects included composite motion in a single image, short animation, photo booth style, and high-dynamic range rendering (HDR).[76] This feature was moved to Google Photos in 2015.[75]
  • Auto Enhance: With Auto Enhance, Google+ made subtle adjustments to hypothetically improve photos.[77] This feature was moved to Google Photos in 2015.[75]
  • Google+ Auto-Backup: A desktop utility that imported a large collection of photos and videos.[78] This feature was moved to Google Photos in 2015.[75]

Additional features

  • Google Takeout provides the ability to download one's content from Google+.[79]
  • Hashtags, where "#" is written before a word or CamelCase, are hyperlinked to the most recent or highest-trending search results within Google+ containing the term. This, a feature which gained notoriety as a microblogging practice on Twitter, was implemented as a Google+ feature on October 12, 2011. Autocompletion came on January 17, 2012.[80]
  • "New Features for Google+ Mobile" Since the launch of Google+, Google has been adding and making changes to many features. On September 30, 2011, the company released a list of changes and additions to Google+ mobile which include:[81]
    • They have made it easier to +mention someone from a mobile device. Now, to +mention another user, one simply writes +[their name] inside a post or comment. In order to +1 comments more easily, users are now able to +1 them directly from their iOS devices. They also introduced this feature to the Android app in December 2011.
  • Selected public figures have verified names. Google determines whether a particular profile warrants verification. The purpose is to indicate to site visitors whether a particular profile belongs to who one would generally expect the name to be, and not someone who coincidentally has the same name as a public figure. Verified identity profiles have a checkmark logo after their name. Examples of profiles bearing the verified name badge include Linus Torvalds, William Shatner, Leo Laporte, Mark Zuckerberg, Larry Page, and Sergey Brin.[82]

Collections

In May 2015, Google+ launched “Collections” feature which was inspired by Pinterest. It allows users to "build content collections based on topics and interests".[83]

Deprecated features

  • "Search in Google+" allowed users to search for content within Google+ and around the web. Users type what they're looking for into the Google+ search box, and Google will return relevant people and posts, as well as popular content from around the web.[84] A search feature has been re-implemented to Google+ but it only turns up content within Google+ instead of including popular content from around the web.
  • "Messenger" (formerly: Huddle) is a feature available to Android, iPhone, and SMS devices for communicating through instant messaging within Circles. Additionally, users can share photos in Messenger between their Circles.[56] This feature was removed in August 2013 since it is superseded by Hangouts.[85]
  • "Sparks" is a front-end to Google Search, enabling users to identify topics they might be interested in sharing with others. "Featured interests" sparks are also available, based on topics others globally are finding interesting.[56] Sparks is accessed as a pull-down from search results and helps to keep users informed of the latest updates on the topics of their interest. Sparks was removed sometime in November 2012.[86]
  • "Games" had 16 games when G+ launched on August 11, 2011,[87] which expanded to 44 a few months later, but by April 2013 there were 38 since some games were removed by the owner.[88] Unlike Facebook games, Google+ games are located under a games tab, which gives games less visibility,[89] and had separate notifications from the rest of a user's notifications.[89] All games were removed from Google+ in June 2013.[90]
  • Ripples, introduced on October 27, 2011, was a visualization tool, showing how re-sharing activity happens regarding a public post. One could replay the public share's activity, zoom in on certain events, identify top contributors, view statistics about average chain length, the most influential people in the chain, the language of the sharers, etc.[74] The feature was removed in May 2015.[91]
  • Google Hangouts, the feature that enabled users to chat, voice, and video conference between users, was removed from Google+ as part of the November 2015 redesign and made accessible through its own Hangouts homepage and mobile applications.[39]
  • Hangouts on Air, introduced in Sept 2011, the live streaming service was moved to YouTube Live starting September 12, 2016.[92]
  • Location, Locations was mostly the service that was Latitude. It allowed the account holder to share their location with a person, circle or circles. The location could be as accurate as the GPS on the mobile device or set to only show city. "Location sharing has moved to Google Maps" appeared in Plus on March 27, 2017.
  • What's Hot, "What's hot" Stream, introduced on October 27, 2011, is a stream showing what Google+ users have commented, shared and interacted with the most. It is similar to "Trending Topics" On Twitter.[74] The page was removed in late 2015, but a new "discover" stream introduced in 2017 provides similar functionality.[71]
  • Google+ Photos, a suite of features which provided photo backup and editing, removed in 2015 and replaced with a separate product called Google Photos.[75]
  • Mentions, a separate stream that showed posts and images you were +mentioned in. This page was removed in the November 2015 redesign.[39]

Google+ Create

In early 2016, the program "G+ Create" which highlights artists, was launched by Google. The intention was to bring content curators around the world in a community that brings them several benefits, such as access to resources under test and obtaining a verified badge in the profile. There is currently a form to attend, and the Google team is looking for maximum creativity and quality.[93]

Technologies

According to Joseph Smarr, one of the Google+ team's technical leads, Google+ is a typical Google web application: it uses Java servlets for the server code and JavaScript for the browser-side of the UI, largely built with Google's Closure framework, including the JavaScript compiler and the template system. They use the HTML5 History API to maintain good-looking URLs in modern browsers despite the AJAX app. To achieve fast response times Google often renders the Closure templates on the server side before any JavaScript is loaded; then the JavaScript finds the right DOM nodes, hooks up event handlers, etc. The back ends are built mostly on top of Bigtable and Colossus/GFS, and other common Google technologies such as MapReduce.[3]

Controversies and criticism

Censorship by governments

Within a day of the website's launch, various news agencies reported that Google+ was blocked by the People's Republic of China.[94] This is part of a wider policy of censorship in mainland China.[95] The Iranian government has also blocked access to Google+ from July 11, 2011,[96] as part of Internet censorship in Iran.[97] Google+ still remains unavailable in mainland China. While it is not technically "blocked", it was made impossible to use by slowing it down to a crawl.[98]

"Occupy Obama's G+"

On February 20, 2012, Internet users from the People's Republic of China realized that state restrictions on Google+ had been relaxed for unknown reasons, allowing them to post on Google+ pages.[99] In particular, Chinese users began to inundate the official election campaign pages of U.S. president Barack Obama on Google+ with often off-topic comments in simplified Chinese characters.[100]

Nymwars

In July 2011, Google+ required users to identify themselves using their real names and some accounts were suspended when this requirement was not met.[101][102] Google VP Bradley Horowitz stated that a violation of the terms of service will only affect offenders' access to Google+ and not any of the other services that Google provides.[103] However, there were early reports of account holders being temporarily locked out of all of Google services.[104]

On October 19, 2011, at the Web 2.0 Summit, Google executive Vic Gundotra revealed that Google+ would begin supporting pseudonyms and other types of identity "within a few months".[105] Starting on January 23, 2012, Google+ began allowing the use of established pseudonyms.[106] In July 2014, Google+ policy was changed to allow any name to be used.[107]

Commenting on YouTube

Bob-google-plus-ascii-art-protest-comment
An image of the ascii-art comment featuring "Bob" used in the then new Google+/YouTube comment section to protest the forced adoption of Google+ for commenting.

On November 6, 2013, YouTube, Google's popular video hosting site began requiring that commenting on its videos be done via a Google+ account, making it impossible to reply to pre-Google+ integrated comments. YouTube said that their new commenting system featured improved tools for moderation, and comments would no longer be shown chronologically, but would be featured according to "relevance" and popularity, determined by the commenters' community engagement, reputation, and up-votes for a particular comment.[108]

The decision led hundreds of thousands of users[109] to criticize the change.[110] Some YouTube commenters and content creators complained that the Google+ requirement that users use their real name created online privacy and security concerns.[111] YouTube co-founder Jawed Karim voiced his disapproval in one of a few comments subsequent to the change[112][113] including the temporary addition of the following text, "I can't comment here anymore, since I don't want a google+ account" to the description of the first ever video on the site.[114] Thousands of commenters on YouTube pasted text art tanks and stick figures called "Bob" to protest the new commenting system and Google+.[115] Supporters of the changes said it was a positive step at cleaning up the "virtual cesspool" of homophobic, racist, sexist and offensive comments found on YouTube.[116] However, this actually increased the spam, and in fixing the issue, Google took the opportunity to strike back against those posting "Bob" ASCII art in protest at the company's actions.[117]

On July 27, 2015, it was announced that the integration with Google+ would be discontinued and that YouTube would require only a Google+ page to use all the features, such as uploading videos and posting comments. YouTube had these changes rolled out over the course of several months, with the comments feature already having an update directly after the announcement: comments only appeared on YouTube and were no longer shared to the social network platform.[118]

In October 2016, YouTube made it possible to reply to pre-Google+ integrated comments once more with or without a Google+ account.

In popular culture

See also

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External links

Alphabet Inc.

Alphabet Inc. is an American multinational conglomerate headquartered in Mountain View, California. It was created through a corporate restructuring of Google on October 2, 2015, and became the parent company of Google and several former Google subsidiaries. The two founders of Google assumed executive roles in the new company, with Larry Page serving as CEO and Sergey Brin as president.Alphabet's portfolio encompasses several industries, including technology, life sciences, investment capital, and research. Some of its subsidiaries include Google, Calico, Chronicle, GV, CapitalG, Verily, Waymo, X, Loon and Google Fiber. Some of the subsidiaries of Alphabet have altered their names since leaving Google and becoming part of the new parent company—Google Ventures becoming GV, Google Life Sciences becoming Verily and Google X becoming just X. Following the restructuring, Page became CEO of Alphabet and Sundar Pichai took his position as CEO of Google. Shares of Google's stock have been converted into Alphabet stock, which trade under Google's former ticker symbols of "GOOG" and "GOOGL". As of 2018, Alphabet is ranked No. 22 on the Fortune 500 rankings of the largest United States corporations by total revenue.The establishment of Alphabet was prompted by a desire to make the core Google Internet services business "cleaner and more accountable" while allowing greater autonomy to group companies that operate in businesses other than Internet services.

Android (operating system)

Android is a mobile operating system developed by Google. It is based on a modified version of the Linux kernel and other open source software, and is designed primarily for touchscreen mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets. In addition, Google has further developed Android TV for televisions, Android Auto for cars, and Wear OS for wrist watches, each with a specialized user interface. Variants of Android are also used on game consoles, digital cameras, PCs and other electronics.

Initially developed by Android Inc., which Google bought in 2005, Android was unveiled in 2007, with the first commercial Android device launched in September 2008. The operating system has since gone through multiple major releases, with the current version being 9 "Pie", released in August 2018. Google released the first Android Q beta on all Pixel phones on March 13, 2019. The core Android source code is known as Android Open Source Project (AOSP), and is primarily licensed under the Apache License.

Android is also associated with a suite of proprietary software developed by Google, called Google Mobile Services (GMS) that very frequently comes pre-installed in devices, which usually includes the Google Chrome web browser and Google Search and always includes core apps for services such as Gmail, as well as the application store and digital distribution platform Google Play, and associated development platform. These apps are licensed by manufacturers of Android devices certified under standards imposed by Google, but AOSP has been used as the basis of competing Android ecosystems, such as Amazon.com's Fire OS, which use their own equivalents to GMS.

Android has been the best-selling OS worldwide on smartphones since 2011 and on tablets since 2013. As of May 2017, it has over two billion monthly active users, the largest installed base of any operating system, and as of December 2018, the Google Play store features over 2.6 million apps.

Android version history

The version history of the Android mobile operating system began with the public release of the Android beta on November 5, 2007. The first commercial version, Android 1.0, was released on September 23, 2008. Android is continually developed by Google and the Open Handset Alliance, and it has seen a number of updates to its base operating system since the initial release.

Gmail

Gmail is a free email service developed by Google. Users can access Gmail on the web and using third-party programs that synchronize email content through POP or IMAP protocols. Gmail started as a limited beta release on April 1, 2004 and ended its testing phase on July 7, 2009.

At launch, Gmail had an initial storage capacity offer of one gigabyte per user, a significantly higher amount than competitors offered at the time. Today, the service comes with 15 gigabytes of storage. Users can receive emails up to 50 megabytes in size, including attachments, while they can send emails up to 25 megabytes. In order to send larger files, users can insert files from Google Drive into the message. Gmail has a search-oriented interface and a "conversation view" similar to an Internet forum. The service is notable among website developers for its early adoption of Ajax.

Google's mail servers automatically scan emails for multiple purposes, including to filter spam and malware, and to add context-sensitive advertisements next to emails. This advertising practice has been significantly criticized by privacy advocates due to concerns over unlimited data retention, ease of monitoring by third parties, users of other email providers not having agreed to the policy upon sending emails to Gmail addresses, and the potential for Google to change its policies to further decrease privacy by combining information with other Google data usage. The company has been the subject of lawsuits concerning the issues. Google has stated that email users must "necessarily expect" their emails to be subject to automated processing and claims that the service refrains from displaying ads next to potentially sensitive messages, such as those mentioning race, religion, sexual orientation, health, or financial statements. In June 2017, Google announced the upcoming end to the use of contextual Gmail content for advertising purposes, relying instead on data gathered from the use of its other services.By February 2016, Gmail had one billion active users worldwide.

Google

Google LLC is an American multinational technology company that specializes in Internet-related services and products, which include online advertising technologies, search engine, cloud computing, software, and hardware. It is considered one of the Big Four technology companies, alongside Amazon, Apple and Facebook.Google was founded in 1998 by Larry Page and Sergey Brin while they were Ph.D. students at Stanford University in California. Together they own about 14 percent of its shares and control 56 percent of the stockholder voting power through supervoting stock. They incorporated Google as a privately held company on September 4, 1998. An initial public offering (IPO) took place on August 19, 2004, and Google moved to its headquarters in Mountain View, California, nicknamed the Googleplex. In August 2015, Google announced plans to reorganize its various interests as a conglomerate called Alphabet Inc. Google is Alphabet's leading subsidiary and will continue to be the umbrella company for Alphabet's Internet interests. Sundar Pichai was appointed CEO of Google, replacing Larry Page who became the CEO of Alphabet.

The company's rapid growth since incorporation has triggered a chain of products, acquisitions, and partnerships beyond Google's core search engine (Google Search). It offers services designed for work and productivity (Google Docs, Google Sheets, and Google Slides), email (Gmail/Inbox), scheduling and time management (Google Calendar), cloud storage (Google Drive), social networking (Google+), instant messaging and video chat (Google Allo, Duo, Hangouts), language translation (Google Translate), mapping and navigation (Google Maps, Waze, Google Earth, Street View), video sharing (YouTube), note-taking (Google Keep), and photo organizing and editing (Google Photos). The company leads the development of the Android mobile operating system, the Google Chrome web browser, and Chrome OS, a lightweight operating system based on the Chrome browser. Google has moved increasingly into hardware; from 2010 to 2015, it partnered with major electronics manufacturers in the production of its Nexus devices, and it released multiple hardware products in October 2016, including the Google Pixel smartphone, Google Home smart speaker, Google Wifi mesh wireless router, and Google Daydream virtual reality headset. Google has also experimented with becoming an Internet carrier (Google Fiber, Project Fi, and Google Station).Google.com is the most visited website in the world. Several other Google services also figure in the top 100 most visited websites, including YouTube and Blogger. Google is the most valuable brand in the world as of 2017, but has received significant criticism involving issues such as privacy concerns, tax avoidance, antitrust, censorship, and search neutrality. Google's mission statement is "to organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful", and its unofficial slogan was "Don't be evil" until the phrase was removed from the company's code of conduct around May 2018.

Google Chrome

Google Chrome (commonly known simply as Chrome) is a cross-platform web browser developed by Google. It was first released in 2008 for Microsoft Windows, and was later ported to Linux, macOS, iOS, and Android. The browser is also the main component of Chrome OS, where it serves as the platform for web apps.

Most of Chrome's source code comes from Google's open-source Chromium project, but Chrome is licensed as proprietary freeware. WebKit was the original rendering engine, but Google eventually forked it to create the Blink engine; all Chrome variants except iOS now use Blink.As of February 2019, StatCounter estimates that Chrome has a 62% worldwide browser market share across all platforms. Because of this success, Google has expanded the "Chrome" brand name to other products: Chrome OS, Chromecast, Chromebook, Chromebit, Chromebox, and Chromebase.

Google Drive

Google Drive is a file storage and synchronization service developed by Google. Launched on April 24, 2012, Google Drive allows users to store files on their servers, synchronize files across devices, and share files. In addition to a website, Google Drive offers apps with offline capabilities for Windows and macOS computers, and Android and iOS smartphones and tablets. Google Drive encompasses Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides, an office suite that permits collaborative editing of documents, spreadsheets, presentations, drawings, forms, and more. Files created and edited through the office suite are saved in Google Drive.

Google Drive offers users with 15 gigabytes of free storage through Google One. Google One also offers 100 gigabytes, 200 gigabytes, 2 terabytes, 10 terabytes, 20 terabytes, and 30 terabytes offered through optional paid plans. Files uploaded can be up to 5 terabytes in size. Users can change privacy settings for individual files and folders, including enabling sharing with other users or making content public. On the website, users can search for an image by describing its visuals, and use natural language to find specific files, such as "find my budget spreadsheet from last December".

The website and Android app offer a Backups section to see what Android devices have data backed up to the service, and a completely overhauled computer app released in July 2017 allows for backing up specific folders on the user's computer. A Quick Access feature can intelligently predict the files users need.

Google Drive is a key component of G Suite, Google's monthly subscription offering for businesses and organizations. As part of select G Suite plans, Drive offers unlimited storage, advanced file audit reporting, enhanced administration controls, and greater collaboration tools for teams.

Following the launch of the service, Google Drive privacy policy was heavily criticized by some members of the media. Google has one set of Terms of Service and Privacy Policy agreements that cover all of its services, meaning that the language in the agreements grants the company broad rights to reproduce, use, and create derivative works from content stored on Google Drive. While the policies also confirm that users retain intellectual property rights, privacy advocates raised concerns that the licenses grant Google the rights to use the information and data to customize advertising and other services Google provides. In contrast, other members of the media noted that the agreements were no worse than those of competing cloud storage services, but that the competition uses "more artful language" in the agreements, and also stated that Google needs the rights in order to "move files around on its servers, cache your data, or make image thumbnails".

As of March 2017, Google Drive has 800 million active users, and as of September 2015, it has over one million organizational paying users. As of May 2017, there are over two trillion files stored on the service.

Google Earth

Google Earth is a computer program that renders a 3D representation of Earth based primarily on satellite imagery. The program maps the Earth by superimposing satellite images, aerial photography, and GIS data onto a 3D globe, allowing users to see cities and landscapes from various angles. Users can explore the globe by entering addresses and coordinates, or by using a keyboard or mouse. The program can also be downloaded on a smartphone or tablet, using a touch screen or stylus to navigate. Users may use the program to add their own data using Keyhole Markup Language and upload them through various sources, such as forums or blogs. Google Earth is able to show various kinds of images overlaid on the surface of the earth and is also a Web Map Service client.

In addition to Earth navigation, Google Earth provides a series of other tools through the desktop application. Additional globes for the Moon and Mars are available, as well as a tool for viewing the night sky. A flight simulator game is also included. Other features allow users to view photos from various places uploaded to Panoramio, information provided by Wikipedia on some locations, and Street View imagery. The web-based version of Google Earth also includes Voyager, a feature that periodically adds in-program tours, often presented by scientists and documentarians.

Google Earth has been viewed by some as a threat to privacy and national security, leading to the program being banned in multiple countries. Some countries have requested that certain areas be obscured in Google's satellite images, usually areas containing military facilities.

Google Maps

Google Maps is a web mapping service developed by Google. It offers satellite imagery, aerial photography, street maps, 360° panoramic views of streets (Street View), real-time traffic conditions (Google Traffic), and route planning for traveling by foot, car, bicycle and air (in beta), or public transportation.

Google Maps began as a C++ desktop program at Where 2 Technologies. In October 2004, the company was acquired by Google, which converted it into a web application. After additional acquisitions of a geospatial data visualization company and a realtime traffic analyzer, Google Maps was launched in February 2005. The service's front end utilizes JavaScript, XML, and Ajax. Google Maps offers an API that allows maps to be embedded on third-party websites, and offers a locator for urban businesses and other organizations in numerous countries around the world. Google Map Maker allowed users to collaboratively expand and update the service's mapping worldwide but was discontinued from March 2017. However, crowdsourced contributions to Google Maps were not discontinued as the company announced those features will be transferred to the Google Local Guides program.Google Maps' satellite view is a "top-down" or "birds eye" view; most of the high-resolution imagery of cities is aerial photography taken from aircraft flying at 800 to 1,500 feet (240 to 460 m), while most other imagery is from satellites. Much of the available satellite imagery is no more than three years old and is updated on a regular basis. Google Maps used a variant of the Mercator projection, and therefore cannot accurately show areas around the poles. However, in August 2018, the desktop version of Google Maps was updated to show a 3D globe.

The current redesigned version of the desktop application was made available in 2013, alongside the "classic" (pre-2013) version. Google Maps for Android and iOS devices was released in September 2008 and features GPS turn-by-turn navigation along with dedicated parking assistance features. In August 2013, it was determined to be the world's most popular app for smartphones, with over 54% of global smartphone owners using it at least once.In 2012, Google reported having over 7,100 employees and contractors directly working in mapping.

Google Play

Google Play (previously Android Market) is a digital distribution service operated and developed by Google LLC. It serves as the official app store for the Android operating system, allowing users to browse and download applications developed with the Android software development kit (SDK) and published through Google. Google Play also serves as a digital media store, offering music, books, movies, and television programs. It previously offered Google hardware devices for purchase until the introduction of a separate online hardware retailer, Google Store, on March 11, 2015, and it also offered news publications and magazines before the revamp of Google News in May 15, 2018.

Applications are available through Google Play either free of charge or at a cost. They can be downloaded directly on an Android device through the Play Store mobile app or by deploying the application to a device from the Google Play website. Applications exploiting hardware capabilities of a device can be targeted to users of devices with specific hardware components, such as a motion sensor (for motion-dependent games) or a front-facing camera (for online video calling). The Google Play store had over 82 billion app downloads in 2016 and has reached over 3.5 million apps published in 2017. It has been the subject of multiple issues concerning security, in which malicious software has been approved and uploaded to the store and downloaded by users, with varying degrees of severity.

Google Play was launched on March 6, 2012, bringing together the Android Market, Google Music, and the Google eBookstore under one brand, marking a shift in Google's digital distribution strategy. The services included in the Google Play are Google Play Books, Google Play Games, Google Play Movies & TV, Google Play Music. Following their re-branding, Google has gradually expanded the geographical support for each of the services.

Google Scholar

Google Scholar is a freely accessible web search engine that indexes the full text or metadata of scholarly literature across an array of publishing formats and disciplines. Released in beta in November 2004, the Google Scholar index includes most peer-reviewed online academic journals and books, conference papers, theses and dissertations, preprints, abstracts, technical reports, and other scholarly literature, including court opinions and patents. While Google does not publish the size of Google Scholar's database, scientometric researchers estimated it to contain roughly 389 million documents including articles, citations and patents making it the world's largest academic search engine in January 2018. Previously, the size was estimated at 160 million documents as of May 2014. An earlier statistical estimate published in PLOS ONE using a Mark and recapture method estimated approximately 80–90% coverage of all articles published in English with an estimate of 100 million. This estimate also determined how many documents were freely available on the web.

Google Scholar has been criticized for not vetting journals and including predatory journals in its index.

Google Search

Google Search, also referred to as Google Web Search or simply Google, is a web search engine developed by Google LLC. It is the most used search engine on the World Wide Web across all platforms, with 92.74% market share as of October 2018, handling more than 3.5 billion searches each day.The order of search results returned by Google is based, in part, on a priority rank system called "PageRank". Google Search also provides many different options for customized search, using symbols to include, exclude, specify or require certain search behavior, and offers specialized interactive experiences, such as flight status and package tracking, weather forecasts, currency, unit and time conversions, word definitions, and more.

The main purpose of Google Search is to hunt for text in publicly accessible documents offered by web servers, as opposed to other data, such as images or data contained in databases. It was originally developed by Larry Page and Sergey Brin in 1997. In June 2011, Google introduced "Google Voice Search" to search for spoken, rather than typed, words. In May 2012, Google introduced a Knowledge Graph semantic search feature in the U.S.

Analysis of the frequency of search terms may indicate economic, social and health trends. Data about the frequency of use of search terms on Google can be openly inquired via Google Trends and have been shown to correlate with flu outbreaks and unemployment levels, and provide the information faster than traditional reporting methods and surveys. As of mid-2016, Google's search engine has begun to rely on deep neural networks.Competitors of Google include Baidu and Soso.com in China; Naver.com and Daum.net in South Korea; Yandex in Russia; Seznam.cz in the Czech Republic; Yahoo in Japan, Taiwan and the US, as well as Bing and DuckDuckGo. Some smaller search engines offer facilities not available with Google, e.g. not storing any private or tracking information.

Within the US, as of July 2018, Microsoft Sites handled 24.2 percent of all search queries in the United States. During the same period of time, Oath (formerly known as Yahoo) had a search market share of 11.5 percent. Market leader Google generated 63.2 percent of all core search queries in the United States.

Google Translate

Google Translate is a free multilingual machine translation service developed by Google, to translate text. It offers a website interface, mobile apps for Android and iOS, and an API that helps developers build browser extensions and software applications. Google Translate supports over 100 languages at various levels and as of May 2017, serves over 500 million people daily.

Launched in April 2006 as a statistical machine translation service, it used United Nations and European Parliament transcripts to gather linguistic data. Rather than translating languages directly, it first translates text to English and then to the target language. During a translation, it looks for patterns in millions of documents to help decide on the best translation. Its accuracy has been criticized and ridiculed on several occasions. In November 2016, Google announced that Google Translate would switch to a neural machine translation engine - Google Neural Machine Translation (GNMT) - which translates "whole sentences at a time, rather than just piece by piece. It uses this broader context to help it figure out the most relevant translation, which it then rearranges and adjusts to be more like a human speaking with proper grammar". Originally only enabled for a few languages in 2016, GNMT is gradually being used for more languages.

Larry Page

Lawrence Edward Page (born March 26, 1973) is an American computer scientist and Internet entrepreneur who co-founded Google with Sergey Brin.Page is the chief executive officer of Alphabet Inc. (Google's parent company). After stepping aside as Google CEO in August 2001, in favor of Eric Schmidt, he re-assumed the role in April 2011. He announced his intention to step aside a second time in July 2015, to become CEO of Alphabet, under which Google's assets would be reorganized. Under Page, Alphabet is seeking to deliver major advancements in a variety of industries.As of December 2018, Page was the 8th-richest person in the world, with a net worth of $51.3 billion.Page is the inventor of PageRank, a well-known search ranking algorithm for Google. Page received the Marconi Prize in 2004 with Brin.

List of Google products

The following is a list of products and services provided by Google.

Search engine optimization

Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of affecting the online visibility of a website or a web page in a web search engine's unpaid results—often referred to as "natural", "organic", or "earned" results. In general, the earlier (or higher ranked on the search results page), and more frequently a website appears in the search results list, the more visitors it will receive from the search engine's users; these visitors can then be converted into customers. SEO may target different kinds of search, including image search, video search, academic search, news search, and industry-specific vertical search engines. SEO differs from local search engine optimization in that the latter is focused on optimizing a business' online presence so that its web pages will be displayed by search engines when a user enters a local search for its products or services. The former instead is more focused on national or international searches.

As an Internet marketing strategy, SEO considers how search engines work, the computer programmed algorithms which dictate search engine behavior, what people search for, the actual search terms or keywords typed into search engines, and which search engines are preferred by their targeted audience. Optimizing a website may involve editing its content, adding content, doing HTML, and associated coding to both increase its relevance to specific keywords and to remove barriers to the indexing activities of search engines. Promoting a site to increase the number of backlinks, or inbound links, is another SEO tactic. By May 2015, mobile search had surpassed desktop search. In 2015, it was reported that Google is developing and promoting mobile search as a key feature within future products. In response, many brands are beginning to take a different approach to their Internet marketing strategies.

Sergey Brin

Sergey Mikhaylovich Brin (Russian: Серге́й Миха́йлович Брин; born August 21, 1973) is an American computer scientist and Internet entrepreneur. Together with Larry Page, he co-founded Google. Brin is the president of Google's parent company Alphabet Inc. As of October 2018, Brin is the 13th-richest person in the world, with an estimated net worth of US$50.6 billion.Brin immigrated to the United States with his family from the Soviet Union at the age of 6. He earned his bachelor's degree at the University of Maryland, College Park, following in his father's and grandfather's footsteps by studying mathematics, as well as computer science. After graduation, he enrolled in Stanford University to acquire a PhD in computer science. There he met Page, with whom he built a web search engine. The program became popular at Stanford, and they suspended their PhD studies to start up Google in Susan Wojcicki's garage in Menlo Park.

Sundar Pichai

Pichai Sundararajan (born July 12, 1972), also known as Sundar Pichai(), is an Indian-American business executive. He is the chief executive officer (CEO) of Google LLC. Formerly the Product Chief of Google, Pichai's current role was announced on August 10, 2015, as part of the restructuring process that made Alphabet Inc. into Google's parent company, and he assumed the position on October 2, 2015.

YouTube

YouTube is an American video-sharing website headquartered in San Bruno, California. Three former PayPal employees—Chad Hurley, Steve Chen, and Jawed Karim—created the service in February 2005. Google bought the site in November 2006 for US$1.65 billion; YouTube now operates as one of Google's subsidiaries.

YouTube allows users to upload, view, rate, share, add to favorites, report, comment on videos, and subscribe to other users. It offers a wide variety of user-generated and corporate media videos. Available content includes video clips, TV show clips, music videos, short and documentary films, audio recordings, movie trailers, live streams, and other content such as video blogging, short original videos, and educational videos. Most of the content on YouTube is uploaded by individuals, but media corporations including CBS, the BBC, Vevo, and Hulu offer some of their material via YouTube as part of the YouTube partnership program. Unregistered users can only watch videos on the site, while registered users are permitted to upload an unlimited number of videos and add comments to videos. Videos deemed potentially inappropriate are available only to registered users affirming themselves to be at least 18 years old.

YouTube earns advertising revenue from Google AdSense, a program which targets ads according to site content and audience. The vast majority of its videos are free to view, but there are exceptions, including subscription-based premium channels, film rentals, as well as YouTube Premium, a subscription service offering ad-free access to the website and access to exclusive content made in partnership with existing users.

As of February 2017, there were more than 400 hours of content uploaded to YouTube each minute, and one billion hours of content being watched on YouTube every day. As of August 2018, the website is ranked as the second-most popular site in the world, according to Alexa Internet.

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(timeline)
Events
People
Other
Related
Websites
Defunct
Platforms
Features
Other topics
Websites
Tools
General
Applications
User interface
Implications
Related concepts
Protocols
Defunct

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