Google is launching its much awaited social search service called +1, the company has announced on its Google Labs site and corporate blog.The service will let users vote on search results, then will use the votes as a factor in ranking results.
Users will need a Google Profile to use +1. Once they’ve created that profile, contacts are built from sources like the user’s Gmail contact list and people they follow on Google Reader.
Users can see which friends and contacts they’re sharing recommendations with by using the “Social Circle And Content” tab in their Google Dashboard.
The service has been rumoured for several months now, and is apparently only one of many efforts underway at the company to add a social layer to its services to help compete against Facebook. Some of those efforts were apparently slowed by political infighting toward the end of 2012, but product chief Vic Gundotra took charge of this particular initiative.
A report earlier this month guessed the name of the service as “Circles” — which Google quickly denied. Apparently, that leak was based on the Social Circle tab used to manage contacts. That tab has been around since 2009, but could gain new prominence with today’s +1 launch.
Ironically, Google search exec Amit Singhal laughed off Facebook’s chance of competing with Google in search back in January, saying “Social is just one signal. It’s a tiny signal.”
Google has also posted a video to YouTube explaining how the service works: