Google to Shutter Orkut
Google today said it will close its Orkut service effective September 30. Orkut is a social network of sorts that embodies communities, games, and social interactions. It has been around for a decade. Usage in the U.S. declined over the last six to eight years, but Orkut remained popular in other markets, such as Brazil and India. According to Google, the dedicated Orkut mobile application will no longer be available as of today, but those who've downloaded it will continue to be able to use the app and Orkut until the September 30 shutdown date. Google suggests users take advantage of its Google Takeout service to download and archive any content they may want saved. Account data will be inaccessible after September 30. Google will preserve the open community threads, and suggests users transition their content and communities to Google+. Google often kills underperforming products.
Google Debuts 'Spaces' App for Group Conversations
Google today introduced a new app called Spaces, which is meant to facilitate group conversations around specific subjects. Google imagines the app could be helpful to book clubs, or to people planning trips, and so on.
Google's Bulletin App Lets Everyone Be a Local Reporter
Google is testing a new application called Bulletin, a way for people to contribute stories about their own community. The free app lets people capture photos, videos, and text on their phone and then publish those microstories directly to the web without forcing people to create a blog or build any sort of web site.
Google Brings Q&A Feature to Maps and Search
Google today said it is adding a question-and-answer tool to Google Maps and Google Search for Android devices. Users need only search for and open business listings within Maps or Search to see the Q&A feature, which taps into data provided by Google Local Guides and others.
Google Refocuses Google+ Around Communities and Collections
Google today revised its Google+ social network to focus on the two areas that garner the most interest among users: communities and collections. The changes are reflected across the web, Android, and iOS apps, which have been stripped down to simpler formats that make it easier to discover and participate in shared interests.