GOOGLE HAS STUCK its wounded hand in the fire once again with another attempt at a social network.
Shoelace, as it's known, is currently on a closed beta for users in New York City. It spawned from Area 120, the part of Google that deals in experimental products or, less charitably, where Friday afternoon is spent dicking about.
It works slightly differently from other social networks as it's designed to help you track down like-minded souls around you, based on interests. You can set up an event on a map and then advertise it in the app to fellow fans - be that a doggie walking group or a Roland Moore-Colyer Appreciation Society.
Group chats and other features then allow you to break the ice and make plans to meet up. Sounds like it will be great for the dogging community.
Einstein is widely credited as saying: "The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results."
It's something of a relief to report, therefore, that this isn't another attempt by Google to reinvent the wheel, after throwing in the towel on Google+ just months ago. Nor is it a buyout of an existing social network like Orkut, or heaven forbid a weird intangible cypher like Google Buzz or Google Wave.
This time, Google is looking to help facilitate real-world social networks - after all, we've all got enough outlets for finding digital friends, cheers.
There is a version for iOS and well as Android, which at this early stage is a relief, given that it's invite-only right now and there's only so many bog snorkelling fans in Downtown New York.
Area 120 projects aren't official Google products, but many have gone on to either be rolled out officially or bundled into existing products over time.
As such, don't hold your breath for Shoelace any time soon. There's an option on the site to nominate your community as the next rollout location if you're in the US. Beyond that - it'll be down to seeing if this fulfils a need for enough people, and that's going to take time. μ
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