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Google’s +1 and what it means for your mobile device

by Kyle Ripley

This just in, Google (GOOG) launched a new service. Normally, this is reason for much excitement, but this new service has people asking questions. It’s called +1. You may be familiar with the functionality because it’s something that you already use in your everyday life -- Facebook’s “Like” button. So, we’re wondering, is Google trying to get into the social sphere? There was a rumor seeded during the SXSW conference about a possible social network that Google was going to launch called Circles, but it seems (so far) that the official denial that Google made was true. So what does +1 mean for you and your mobile devices?

According to the video, the Google +1 button will appear on the Google search page, next to results and ads, and will also be available to developers to embed in web pages. When clicked, it will let your Google contacts know that you “like” the content or “found it useful.” I know. It seems a bit redundant when you imagine the +1 button right next to the Facebook “Like” button. They also talk about the data being used for everyone on the web, more like a “reddit” button or a “digg” button. This would suggest that the more useful web pages would have more +1 presses and it would be a way of quality control or content management as you browse. Okay, I suppose I could get into something like that.

So where does my mobile device come in? +1 really isn’t an ‘app’ per-say, so it won’t have an interface on my device (yet). However, I can definitely see the +1 button being used in the above application because Google can put the little guy wherever they want and as many times as they want on their search pages. If it does make it to all of the search pages, and people start using it, then it’s going to be helpful-- I think.

The only problem is that there is no social application. The mobile world is woven into the social web of our lives. When I click on a “Like” button somewhere, I know that all of my friends are going to see it in their Facebook feeds, mobile or otherwise. There isn’t really a payoff for tapping the +1 button if the only reason for it is the greater good of the web. I’m going to need more that that, Google.

I am, however, interested in seeing how Google fits the +1 into its beautiful mobile app that has always brought so much joy to my heart. In my vision, there does not seem to be space for it in the apps list within the Google app, but I’m sure the company will integrate it into the presentation layer wonderfully. But this still doesn’t answer the question of why use it. When I hit the “Like” button I know exactly where it’s going and who’s finding out what I like. The Google +1 button is just not that clear.

I know that I have a Google profile, but I don’t know that anyone has ever seen it. It’s certainly not mainstream. I have my contacts in Google, but they are not necessarily social friends. I imagine there will be functionality to link your +1 activity to your Facebook or Twitter, but why? It’s already built into the Facebook framework. It seems that +1 just asks more questions than it gives answers. But, answers or not, keep your eyes open, because you’ll be seeing the +1 button in your search results soon.