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Google's new social app bakes YouTube, Chrome and search into group chats

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We may have more messaging apps than ever before, but sharing with small groups is still a problem — at least, according to Google.

The company is hoping its new app, Spaces, will fix it. The social app, launching today on iOS, Android and the web, is aimed at small groups of people and has Google search, YouTube and Chrome baked in.



Not quite messaging and not quite a social network, Spaces is a "destination for when you want to share, and talk about what you're sharing," the app's Product Director Luke Wroblewski, told Mashable.

Users create "spaces," chat room-like message threads, and invite others to join with a link that can be opened in the app or on the web. Conversations within Spaces are centered around chunks of content like web links, YouTube videos and photos.


Participants can tap on a link to an article or a video, and comment within a thread that lives alongside the content. With search, Chrome and YouTube in the app, it's easy to add new material to a space.




Spaces also uses some of Google machine learning to make it easier to find things previously shared in your spaces. The same technology that powers Google Photo's image recognition lives in Space's in-app search. Searching for "trees," for instance, will surface photos with trees in them as well as videos and articles.


Spaces is the second new app in less than a week from Google. The company launched Gboard, an iPhone keyboard app with search baked in, last week. Although the two apps seem unrelated, Wroblewski says they are more alike than it may seem.


"Both of those things are addressing similar pain points," he said. "The way [the team that created Gboard] solved that was, 'Let’s put the keyboard in every app.' We are sort of tackling the same problem in the inverse: 'Let’s put all these services inside of a single place,' and make them available instantly that way."




Launching the new app ahead of Google's I/O developer conference, which is kicking off later this week, is also intentional.


Google will be demoing what Wroblewski describes as two "bleeding edge" integrations with the platform: NFC-enabled tattoos and bluetooth beacons. The NFC tattoos will allow people to tap their NFC-equipped phone on a tattoo to join a new space. Likewise, Google will set up bluetooth beacons around different sessions at I/O to allow developers to join a space during a session to discuss what they're seeing.


This type of experimentation, and its decision to use I/O as a launchpad, is also suggestive of Google's future plans for Spaces. Though Wroblewski declined to say whether developer tie-ins may be on the roadmap for the future, he said the company is thinking of Spaces as a platform, just like the services it ties into.


"The very cool thing about building any kind of platform is seeing what people do with it," Wroblewski said. "That’s what we do with Android, that we do with Chrome, that's what we do with everything. We consider this to be a platform. It’s a platform for sharing within groups, but it’s still a platform."


Source:  http://mashable.com/2016/05/16/google-spaces-app/#pasFhYrBMaqc





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