Recently, I wrote about the ability to search Google Profiles, single pages with Google user information similar to a social network profile. I also noted that with things like a voting widget and maps, the profiles were getting a bit more robust, despite Google never really promoting them. Now another new feature common on social networks has been added: Importing picture streams.
You can import pictures from either your Picasa stream (which Google owns) or a third-party service such as Flickr, as Twitter user Rolf Schewe noticed today. “This is clearly a not-so-stealth social networking site being built right before our eyes,” Steve Rubel notes on his Micro Persuasion blog. He also wonders if these pages won’t turn into lifestreaming hubs that eventually compete with something like FriendFeed.
That could happen to a certain extent, but Google has yet to lay any type of social layer on top of these profiles. Right now they are simply stand-alone pages that showcase some information about you and some of your activity around the web. A few different Google services use information from them, such as Google Reader and Google Maps, and you can be sure that will expand.
But will this ground-up approach work for Google to take on an actual social network? Yahoo also recently launched new profile pages for its users, but those seem to be getting no traction after some small initial buzz. Will Google eventually leverage these profiles for OpenSocial, the Google-backed set of application programming interfaces (APIs) for connecting social networks? We’ll see.