Google has launched a new social networking site as part of its ongoing attempt to take on Facebook, which now claims more than 500m users.

Google+ allows users to share messages, photos, and comments but also integrates the Google maps and images into the service.

However, analysts say Google has just copied features of Facebook and simply added a video chat function.

People have their social circles on Facebook – asking them to create

another social circle is challenging," Debra Aho Williamson, principal

analyst with research firm eMarketer, told the Associated Press news


"The whole idea of a Google social network… they've been throwing

stuff against the wall for several years and so forth nothing has


Google, which handles approximately two out of every three internet searches in the US, has taken several shots at Facebook in recent years but both Google Wave and Google Buzz proving unpopular with users.

It is promising that four features in Google+ could help make the company a permanent player in social networking:

• Circles – a functionality that allows individuals to place friends into groups, allowing users to share different forms of content with targeted clusters of friends

• Hangouts – live multi-user video conferencing that permits friends to drop in and out of live group conversations

• Huddle – group instant messaging

• Sparks – a feature that connects individuals on the network to others with common interests.

The current version of Google+ has only been released to a small number of users, but the company has said it soon hopes to make the social network available to the millions of individuals that use its services each day.