Our Take: This Week in the News

culture Posted on Oct 09, 2018

Google+ Gives up the Ghost

Just in time for the start of the Halloween season, Google announced that G+ will soon be haunting our memories of social media platforms gone by. After failing to notify users of a major security breach earlier in the year, the company has opted to cut its losses and simply shut down all consumer-facing functionality instead of trying to remedy the problems.

Though stalwarts kept praising the unrealized marketing potential of the platform’s social circles structure to the bitter end, G+ never managed to break out of the most niche of niches. Indeed, we were never able to find a way to turn it into a reliable pathway to consumers—for the simple reason that almost none of them used it.

While G+ Enterprise will continue on for business users, the rest of the site will rapidly wind down operations over the next 10 months.

Facebook Takes Video Phones Back to the Future

Even in the age of smart home devices and ubiquitous video connectivity, nobody has yet managed to capture the dream of 20th century SciFi with fullscreen video phones dedicated to seamlessly enabling visual calls. If Facebook has its way, that will soon change with the launch of its Portal and Portal Plus video chat devices.

While the gadgets are indistinguishable from simple pad devices at first glance, the key selling point is their finely tuned optimization for real-world video calling, complete with AI-assisted subject tracking and framing, so users never need to worry about whether they’re visible or out of focus while deep in conversation.

It remains to be seen how the company will address ongoing concerns about its protection and use of consumer data, but we’re especially interested in Portal’s full integration with Facebook Messenger and Alexa—with a promise to include other digital assistants in the near future. If consumers end up embracing the devices, those integrations could turn Portal into a key avenue for AR and digitally-assisted marketing efforts at home.