Google seems to have had enough of Facebook's meteoric rise and has now sprung into action with a host of new design changes to its social networking website, Orkut.
The website, which has been in the decline for the past few months, will see a lot of new features and a drastic change in the looks. The "refreshing new look" of Orkut is based on the Google Web Toolkit (GWT) infrastructure and will include the ability to discover friends automatically, video chat integrated with Google Talk, ability to upload photos in bulk very quickly, add/view photos and videos in-line, and a more interactive activity stream, says Google.
The activity stream looks like a status message update functionality on the lines of Twitter and Facebook. Other new additions include video testimonials and of course applications, which seems to have not taken off much -- especially when compared with Facebook. The aforementioned activity stream has the option for comments as well - quite similar to the Facebook update feature - even visually!
Orkut, in its previous avatar, was notorious for its insecurity. The new version claims to be a lot safer and there will be customized mobile versions too for the iPhone, S60 and J2ME platforms. Orkut also sees a neater integration with other Google services with the typical "Google bar" at the top of the site. This allows quick access to other Google services. Until now, Orkut looked like a Google outcast with no links to other Google services on the homepage - with the only Google indication being the integrated Gtalk and the occasional Chrome advertisements.
The new Orkut is being rolled out to a select few users initially. These selected few can invite others to experience the new Orkut. Orkut has a community for those who wish to take a preview of the new version and where you can list yourselves to be invited. Click here for more on that.
The new version of Orkut with the new features certainly looks promising. However, will this be enough to stop the Facebook juggernaut that is taking over India? We will soon find out!