One of the biggest problems with Google+ has been its inability to create a group wherein all peers are equal. You can create a hashtag that everyone can post to but you can't control the membership of, or a Page that a few moderators can share to, but it's difficult to add users to (for non-public posts, Pages can only add users to circles once they add the Page first). Communities finally fixes this problem by creating public or private groups that anyone within can share to.

The Communities feature includes everything you would expect from a separate group:  you can submit public posts that everyone can see, or just private posts that only members can access. You can initiate Hangouts just for your group and schedule Events that only they can access. Most importantly of all, though, it creates a permanent home for the whole group. Pages just haven't quite been able to cut it in the past. This is a wonderful, welcome addition.

Google is calling this a "preview" right now, so it's unclear if everyone will have the full functionality from the start, or if it will rollout to select organizations and users first as with things like Hangouts on Air. It's also only available on the web. Mobile is "coming soon."

Source: Google Blog

Eric Ravenscraft
Eric is a snarky technophile with a taste for the unusual. When he's not obsessing about Android, you can usually find him obsessing about movies, psychology, or the perfect energy drink. Eric weaves his own special blend of snark, satire, and comedy into all his articles.

  • McLean Riley

    Someone messaged me on Google+ yesterday. All I could think was, why didn't they just use Talk as the messaging service?

    • http://wave-france.blogspot.com Supercopter

      Talk is embedded on the side of the G+ website (just like in Gmail). So the way to "instant message" someone on G+ is actually to use Talk. Otherwise it's just a regular G+ post, not an instant messaging post.

      • McLean Riley

        I see. I guess I didn't know because I don't use Social Media on anything but my phone and it came up as a G+ thing instead of talk on the phone.

        • http://wave-france.blogspot.com Supercopter

          Oh, actually on the phone G+ comes with a side-app named "Messenger". Messenger is a sort of a mix between Talk, SMS and Groups. It's a nice tool for asynchronous group text messaging (and it can embed pics too).

          • McLean Riley

            So it is already more advanced than Google Voice haha. It will take the place of SMS? I might need to look into this. Haven't paid it much attention. I need a reason to dump Go SMS.

          • http://wave-france.blogspot.com Supercopter

            Well, the main advantages over SMS are: •Free of charge (since it relies on WiFi or the data connection included in your contract) •Built with groups in mind (your Google+ existing Circles or manually created list of contacts) •A nice UI that reminds both instant messaging and forums.

          • JG

            Except to fully replace SMS, everyone you text would need a G+ account and have either an Android or iOS device (phone or tablet). According to some numbers I saw a few months back, just under half of all US mobile users still have feature phones, plus those who have WP or BB would be unreachable. And I'm sure there are still a few who are FB exclusive ("I already have an account & all my friends are here, no one is on G+ & I'd have to start all over, why bother?"), or are anti-social networking period & refuse to even bother setting up an account.

  • Greyhame

    I'm trying to work through your first paragraph and coming up a little confused...

    So this is something you could use to set up a "community" where you could share posts (or incriminating photos) with buddies that would be private and not accessible to just anyone roaming on G+? And this community would have a moderator to decide who gets added to it?

    • http://insight.pinkonbrown.org/ Dr P Fenderson

      That is one of the ways you could do it, yes. Although, I don't know how private you can make the front-facing content on the page...but I'm guessing you could certainly restrict visibility of posts to the people actually in the group.

      • Justin Swanson

        You can, I just created my first community and it gives you all the security options up front.

  • br_hermon

    I'm sure I'm missing something here but... what can this do that you can't already do by simply creating and sharing with a specific circle? Circles only consists of your friends and communities could be anyone? Circles don't have a regular page to go visit (except for filtering your feed by circle) and communities do? Is that right or am I missing something?

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1653571802 Debadatta Bose

      Circles are created by you. While the communities feature gives you an opportunity to discover users who share your interest. More precisely, Google suggestions for people you should interact with.

    • http://insight.pinkonbrown.org/ Dr P Fenderson

      To expand on what Debadatta said below, you also can't have people in your circles post TO the circle specifically. There's no central place to see all posts TO a circle either. This fixes that. Circles are kind of one-way - all info trickles down into the circle from one user. This swaps the user with a "page", where multiple users can post information that trickles down to the other users in the group.

  • mgamerz

    They still don't have group chat for the web so what's the point...?

  • Bob

    That is one irritating voiceover on that video.

  • RandomEncounter

    Finally, I was looking for a good alternative to Facebook Groups... this seems to be it. At my school create private groups for every class year such as Starfleet Academy Class of 2225 etc. Now all it needs is a more understandable / better messaging center.

  • http://www.txtimpact.com/text-messaging-service.asp TextMessage

    Upload your own mobile list, select from Group/subscribers list, or single mobile number.