Google Profiles is an application for creating a public profile. It can act as a social media hub to link to blogs, Flickr, Twitter, Facebook, Google Reader, and other profiles.Show more screenshots »
Google Profiles rolled out its new interface in March 2011. Several tech websites are hypothesizing that this is another step towards some kind of massive project to compete with Facebook.
The profile, at this point, is mostly about the “About” section. Buzz can be used or hidden – Buzz isn’t everyone’s favorite tool – most are sticking with Twitter. It also has a tab for PicasaWeb albums.
To begin, the About section should be completed. Let’s start with the sidebar: a profile photo from gravatar, a Picasa web album, previously uploaded profile photos, or a new photo uploaded from the computer may be featured. Below the profile pic, there is an option to allow people to email the user from the profile. The users actual email address will be hidden from the sender. Below that, users may indicate location, relationship status, and gender. This is all optional.
Moving to the main About section, the first item is a Scrapbook. Users may add photos for profile viewers to see. To add a photo, users may use Picasa Web Album Photos or computer uploads. Uploading is quite fast over a high speed broadband connection. The downside to this is that all images are cropped into squares. The user has no ability to edit or adjust what part of a rectangular image is visible. This means that either the user must adjust the photos before uploading or simply live with what the program uses as the cropped image. The photos appear across the top of the profile.
Next is the Introduction section. A very simple text editor is provided for the user to add a short bio. In addition to the introduction, there is an option to add custom links or manage connected accounts. Users may connect Facebook, Quora, Yahoo, Flickr, LinkedIn, Twitter, or Yelp. Once chosen, a user provides the account name or link to the profile page of the service. Users may choose to add these links to the public Google Profile as well. To allow these to be visible on your profile, users must click the link that says “your public Google Profle”. This is not intuitive and took me several tries to figure it out. To add a custom link, users provide a label for the type of site and the URL.
The next section is “bragging rights”, a place to brag about… whatever you want. Then users fill in occupation, employment, and education. All of this is very easy and accomplished via fill-in-the-blank or simple text editor. Next, users may indicate places they have lived on a Google Map.
Information about how to contact you at work or home is requested, but is no publicly visible. Users may choose who may view this information.
Relationship status includes a number of options, including “it’s complicated” to “in a civil union”. In the Look For section, users can indicate friends, dating, a relationship, or networking. Gender and other names (maiden name, alternate spellings of the name) and Nicknames may be added.
Each user may choose to allow or deny visibility in search results. A profile URL is provided for use in other apps.
When finished, click Done Editing at the top of the page.
To use Google Profiles, a user must have a Google account. Setting up an account requires a current email address, password, location, birthdate, word verification (to confirm you are human and not a bot), and agreement to terms of service.
Google Profiles is a free application.
If the tech sites are correct, this is the first step towards Google’s answer to Facebook. If this is true, having a thorough profile ready will prepare users for the process. For now, it is more of a way to have your bio information available and searchable on the web.