YouTube gets tighter integration with Google+
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Google is making it easier for people to search for, watch and share YouTube videos within the user interface of the Google+ social networking site.
There is now a permanent YouTube icon on the main Profile page of Google+. Located on the upper right-hand corner of the page, the icon slides open when users hover over it with their cursor, displaying a search box.
People can then run any query and a separate window pops up with a pre-configured playlist of video clips related to the search term. The first video on the list starts playing automatically in the upper half of the page, above the list of clips.
The videos are chosen algorithmically by Google. There are buttons on the interface of this page for people to "+1" the clip that's playing and share it with others using the Google+ Circles feature.
People with whom videos are shared can not only play back the clips but also see a playlist of related videos, Google said on Thursday in a blog post.
In addition, the company is rolling out features to extend Google+'s reach and presence beyond the Google domain with two new extensions for the Chrome browser.
One of the extensions gives users a portable +1 button, so that they can tag any Web page as such and share that with people in their Google+ contacts. The other Chrome extension lets people check their Google+ notifications while they are elsewhere on the Web. For those who don't use Chrome, similar functionalities have been added to the Google Toolbar for Internet Explorer.
Google officials have said that they plan to broadly integrate Google+ with the company's other applications, sites and services. Already there are levels of integration between Google+ and Picasa Web, Blogger, Reader, Google Apps and the +1 button.
Some Google+ integrations are optional, while others are mandatory. The latter kind has irked some users who feel Google is in those cases being too aggressive in pushing people to use Google+, which has about 40 million members, while Facebook has more than 800 million.
For example, in order to set up a Google+ profile, users must agree to integrate it with their Picasa Web account. That integration means that Picasa Web users who until then have posted and shared photos using a pseudonym can no longer do so. Instead, their Picasa Web username becomes their Google+ identity, which at this point must be their real name.
In the case of the Reader RSS feed manager, Google this week shut down its native social content-sharing features and shifted that functionality in modified form to Google+. This means that Reader users who want to continue sharing RSS feed content with others must set up a Google+ profile.
As in the case of Picasa Web, Reader users who posted and shared content using a pseudonym must now do so using their real Google+ name. Google has said it will allow for the use of pseudonyms in Google+ but hasn't said when nor how.
The Reader changes and its integration with Google+ have led disgruntled users to complain in discussion forums, Twitter posts and blogs. These users even set up an online petition asking Google to reconsider and give them the option to continue using Reader's native sharing features.
Beyond the requirement to use their real names -- a major concern specifically for users in Iran, where many of the complaints have come from -- these users also dislike losing a dedicated space for RSS feed sharing. Shared Reader content will now be lumped in with all the other types of things people can share on Google+.
Sharing Reader content will now be based on Google's +1 button, which is tightly integrated with Google+, and on Google+ Circles, the feature that lets users organize their Google+ contacts into different groups, like family, co-workers and any other category they define.
Another inconvenience for these users is that they will have to recreate the groups of Reader contacts with which they shared. Those groups that existed within Reader will now have to be compiled again within Google+.