Imagine a social network where users create boards around specific interests to share their favorite videos, images and other content. It sounds a lot like Pinterest, but it's actually a description of Collections, a new feature for Google Plus.
Collections, which is rolling out from May 4, is the latest attempt to grow the Google+ social network, which is still largely seen as a failure nearly four years after its launch.
On your Google+ account, alongside your home feed, there's a new tab for Collections in the same way there are tabs for Photos, Hangouts and Communities. Collections allows you to organize all your favorite posts, from photos to videos or news, into categories.
When you create a collection, you can add original content or simply drag any content from other sections of your Google+ account. Just like any other Google+ post, you can then make the collection private, share it with your friends or make it public for anyone on the network to view. There's also a handy YouTube integration feature where you can search for and share any YouTube video from within the Collections tab.
As well as curating your own content, you can search through a library of featured collections. Some of the featured collections showing in the feed include one on battery technology, pet portraits, architectural symphony and one called "Nobody's Perfect Bear's Los Angeles adventures," which currently has more than 30,000 followers. By following a particular collection, you'll be alerted any time a new post is added.
Google has always claimed that its social network has been a success, particularly in that it has encouraged users to have one login account for all its Google apps. However, while many people have a Google+ account, often just because it's linked to their Gmail account, the social network has never taken off and captured the public's imagination in the way the company must have hoped.
Copying an idea that somebody else did first often works for tech firms — Apple didn't invent the smartphone and Microsoft wasn't the first company to use "windows" — but it's hard to see this working too well for Google+. People who want to share pictures around a particular topic use Pinterest. Google wants people to break this habit and keep users sharing within the Google ecosystem. For that to change, their offering has to be better and easier to use than the competition. So far, it's hard to see what Collections offers that is significantly different or better that will force users to break the habit of using Pinterest.
Collections is available on the Google+ Android app or through a Web browser. An iOS version is expected soon.