Google+: What is it and why do I need it?

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PHOENIX – If you’ve been online at all in the past couple of weeks, chances are you’ve heard about something called

Google+

. Some people are comparing it to Facebook, but there are some significant differences in features and functionality.

From Circles to Hangout to Sparks, Ken Colburn of Data Doctors broke it all down for Scott Pasmore.

“Think of it as Facebook meets Twitter with a little side of e-mail,” Colburn said. “It’s got some interesting possibilities.”

Circles allow you to communicate specific things to specific people. You can arrange your Circles the way you organize the people you know in real life.

“If you want to post something privately, it’s really easy to do. If you want to post it to just a portion of the Circle, it’s really easy to do,” Colburn explained.

Hangouts are video chats involving up to 10 people.

Sparks are videos and articles Google thinks you’ll like. You can watch and read them at your leisure and then share them as you like.

When it comes to posts, one of the things that has plagued Facebook users for years is the lack of ability to edit past posts. Google+ has addressed this, making editing a reality.

Because Google+ is still in the testing phase while programmers work out the last kinks, you need an invitation from somebody who's already in to join. That invite has to come from an actual person, somebody you know. Keep that in mind because scammers have already come up with a fake Facebook app  that supposedly offers "direct access" to Google+. Like most apps, it wants you to give it access to your personal information. Don't fall for it.