Florian Rohrweck (note: language) has been digging around in the code for Google Plus, Google's new social network launched this week. What he has discovered, mostly in the form of small icons called sprites, are hints about the network's upcoming features, namely Google+ Games, Google+ Questions, Shared Circles and possibly even social search.Enterprising Austrian blogger
Questions, Games and Social Search?
Recently added sprites (see images below) include a question mark, icons for dining, movies, map pushpins, star ratings, emoticons and more. One of those icons (see bottom), which looks like two little people, could be involved in some kind of social search feature, Rohrweck guesses.
He also found an icon with a chess symbol on it, backing up his earlier discovery where a product called "Google+ Games" was referenced by name.
However, the most intriguing find had to do with four icons, all whose names begin "shared_circle." This seems to imply that Google+ will allow you to create Circles containing other Google+ users, and share those with others. This would serve a function similar to Twitter lists, where power users can take the time to create lists on various subjects (e.g. "top tech," "humor," "politicians,"), fill those lists with related Twitter users, then make those lists public so anyone can subscribe to them. That would certainly help with the administrative overload of Circle management, for those who want to use Google+ to follow industry peers of some kind.
It also could serve as an easy way to get family, friends and other non-tech-geeks (read: Facebook users) to join the network. Instead of those users having to configure all their Circles for themselves, they could start off with some sample Circles, shared by you. Perhaps these Circles, once shared, could be edited and added to by authorized participants, Rohrweck wonders. And we're curious if the Shared Circles could even copied to a user's personal profile to serve as the basis for a Circle of their own. That last feature is one that Twitter lists decidedly lack - you can't use someone else's Twitter list as the starting point of your own, without manually recreating it yourself.
Other sources, and great follow-up reading: Google Plus: Why Facebook and Quora Should Worry & New Images Suggest "Shared Circles" Coming Soon in Google+