SOCIAL NETWORKING UPSTART Google is updating its +1 button in its latest effort to steal users from Facebook with Google+.
The update features two major changes that enhance usability. The first is for when you want to +1 a web page or news article. Normally you just see a counter showing how many have +1'd it, but that will change to allow you to hover over the +1 to see a list of friends and colleagues from your Circles who have already demonstrated how much they like the web page or article in question.
This change is similar to how Facebook's Like button works. Across the web it displays the names of friends who have already Liked the web page you're on. This is quite handy for seeing what web sites social network friends use in common.
The second update is to the Google+ social network itself. Currently it just shows a tally of those who +1'd a post, but, when clicked on, it shows the names and pictures of people who clicked the button. This will change to show a few thumbnail images and names, along with a tally, right beside the +1 button, giving a more immediate view of who in your Circles have +1'd the post.
Google is rolling out the first feature, affecting +1 across the web, immediately and it might be available already to users in certain areas. The company is testing the second feature on the Google+ Platform Preview and it will likely launch that in a week or two once it has fixed bugs.
The +1 news came in a Google+ post on the profile of Timothy Jordan, developer advocate for the Google+ project. Google is announcing many changes in this format, which helps get people to return to Google+ to check things out.
Google has been steadily expanding Google+ since launching it in June, including adding social games earlier this month. This latest move shows that the internet giant plans to keep pumping out changes and enhancements for its social network Google+, which is the biggest competitive threat Facebook has ever faced. µ