When Google began to publicly leak information related to Google+ prior to the unveiling in 2011, the word on the street was that this was Google’s great social project. After numerous failed attempts, such as Wave, Buzz and gaining adoption of Orkut outside of Brazil, they were ready to put a serious player on the social media map. Google+ was that player and it has been fairly misunderstood since launching, yet growing in reach and sophistication every step of the way.

With the launch of the latest piece of the Google+ project, a new dashboard, Google users and observers may finally be getting a better sense of what Google+ is, and has been, all about. The idea of tying all of their products together, through a social layer, as it’s been said to describe Google+. Much of the data that users provide to each Google product, such as Gmail, YouTube, Drive, Blogger, Maps, and more help enhance the Google+ product, and vice versa. The data, habits, relationships have all been there, but never before tied together.

Google+ Hangouts

If nothing else, the competition in innovation means that the users win. Google’s social projects have seen Facebook and the other platforms up their game and deliver more in obvious direct response to many of the innovative features Google has brought to the table in Google+.