Code junkie Matt Mastracci discovers new features that Google+ hasn't released yet. If he is correct, Google is ready to step it up with fixes, new features, and user experience improvements to stay competitive with Facebook.
Now that Google+ is off to a much better start at being a key player in the social network space, they know that they need to work fast to fix any issues, address concerns and add new features as quickly as possible to make their offering competitive against the behemoth that is Facebook. It's hard to guess which features and tweaks they are going to roll out next. Sometimes however, web companies leave themselves exposed during the iterative development process. Hackers and web application engineers have ways of figuring things out, sometimes only having to use the "View Source" option in their web browser.
Recently, one such code junkie named Matt Mastracci (@mmastrac on Twitter), was trying to gain early access to Google+'s new circle-sharing feature and inadvertently came across what appears to be some possible features that have yet to be announced and released to the public.
The Google+ "Wall"
Not a lot to go on here as most of the code has been obfuscated but the first one he talks about is the Google+ equivalent of writing on someone's Facebook Wall, where users can write or post content on the walls of individual profiles without it showing up in the timelines of the other users:
The next chunk of code reveals something that might be Google's answer to Quora. In this next snippet you'll see references to the phrase "Google Experts," where questions can be posted, Google+ users can add other user names to questions in the same way you can now in your posts, comment threads, etc.
Also in the above piece, Matt says it's apparent that they are possibly testing this feature out right now to make sure that it works correctly on the Google Apps domains. So somewhere, somehow, it might be accessible to see it in action. Unfortunately, he didn't get that far but I'm interested to see what this looks like!
After all the damage control that Facebook has had to deal with over privacy issues, Google would be stupid to not make this an extremely high priority. It backfired on them big time with Google Buzz so they got a little taste of not only how serious the public takes this issue, but also how users don't forget these mistakes and continue to talk about these screw ups online for weeks and months on end on Twitter, Facebook and their own blogs. Learning from those lessons, Google has some sort of privacy control pane in development to help you streamline your privacy settings easily. Matt was able to get this privacy wizard to pop up on his profile page with some code manipulation.
Google Voice Integration
The last, but certainly not least, feature addition is the integration of Google Voice to the Google+ platform. Matt isn't totally sure how this is gonna look but at a quick glance his guess is that you'll be able dial people right off of a web page without being able to see their actual phone number.
The race is on
It's clear that Google is really starting to realize what they are up against. One of their biggest challenges is that they are developing all these technologies in-house. The upside to that approach is that it can be tested and very efficiently integrated into their other product offerings. The downside is that each new feature they add will yield yet another layer of learning curve with no customer base brought in with whatever the new feature is. (like Netflix, Skype, and Spotify did).
The social network competition is going start heating up big time now that Facebook may actually have some real competition in the coming months. Google is going to have to pay extra special attention to where Facebook is headed next. They would also be smart to monitor closely, conversations across the social-sphere about Facebook, listening to people's complaints, desires for new features, and just the overall experience.