Orkut, Google's social network that has a lot of users in Brazil and India, has received a major update. Groups of friends are more visible and you can send messages to the members of a group directly from Orkut's homepage. Orkut also updated search results pages and application pages, while testing a new platform for communities.
There are a lot of changes and it will be interesting to see if Google tests these features in Orkut before launching Google Me, a social network that will compete with Facebook.
One of the major changes in Orkut is the focus on groups. "You love your grandma and you're friends with your boss, but that doesn't mean you want them both seeing the conversation you're having with your friends the day after a party. With orkut, you can now build separate groups of your friends reflecting how you interact with them in real life." This is one of the ideas from "The Real Life Social Network", a presentation by Paul Adams, Senior User Experience Researcher at Google.
Google's Rahul Kulkarni mentioned last year that Orkut will change a lot. "The new Orkut adopts the latest Google Web Toolkit platform and includes features such as built-in simultaneous chat, photo tagging with automatic face detection and private sharing of photo albums including new safety features. This is the beginning of a new direction for Orkut, where users will be able to increasingly share and communicate with groups of friends from their lives."