Google in the usual fashion of launching products and services via a "field trial" or beta, launched their much anticipated stab at social networking Google+.
Touted as "Real-life sharing rethought for the web," Google+ is essentially Google's own Facebook. The fundamental difference between Facebook and Google+ seems to be their places of origin. Facebook was a result of Myspace, Friendster, and other social networking sites that sought to connect people via a profile page of personal information. Google+ appears to be a sharing engine.
People in Google+ aren't all categorized as friends, they're categorized as whatever you want them to be via Circles. Circles are specific clumps of people like coworkers, friends, family, childhood enemies, and anything else you can think of. Sharing is done via these circles, instead of everyone on your friends list. Why hasn't Facebook done this yet? There are plenty of times I've wanted to post something only to a certain group of people to see via my status updates, but have to painfully watch as others out of the loop attempt to respond to my update.
Hangouts is the other feature that has me itching to get an invitation to the Google+ beta. It is essentially a group video chat service that lets you spontaneously jump into these "hangouts." Users simply let other users know they're "hanging out," and wait for others to drop by and join the conversation. However, I can see this devolving into some sick twisted version of organized Chat Roulette.
Google+ has Huddle which is the non video based version of instant messaging. In addition to a users social feed (shared items from people you know) Google+ contains a feature called Sparks. Sparks is essentially an automated news feed, much like StumbleUpon, which gives you a stream of things you might not hate to share with your Circles.
It appears Google+ may indeed succeed where Buzz, Wave, and Orkut failed. People may actually find a reason to keep the little service around. However, Google has snuffed iOS users for now ((they promised it is coming) by not including a native application with the beta release. However, a very nice HTML5 web app version is available to those who have been fortunate to secure an invite to the early trial of Google+.
Oh and Google+'s version of Facebook's "Like" button is called the "+1" button. No word on if they plan on implementing a "-1" button thereby allowing users to keep score.