Digital Innovation Platforms
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Google is building a social network (again)

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Shrugging off its monumental failure with Google+, the search giant is again dipping its toes into the social networking waters. It’s latest initiative is Shoelace, a mobile app that, according to the company, helps connect people with shared interests through in person activities.

Learning from its previous experiences, Google has decided to start small this time, and “determine what works and what doesn’t.”  

While our goal is to bring Shoelace to cities nationwide, we’ve decided to focus our efforts on New York City at first. This will help us determine what works and what doesn’t as we work to make the app available to more people.

Shoelace team, Google

Shoelace was built by a small team in Area 120, Google’s workshop for experimental products. Area 120 is “where Googlers spend 100% of their time on 20% projects,” and has created interesting apps such as Touring Bird, Rivet, Game Builder, Grasshopper, Uptime, Shortwave and Supersonic.

“We build, launch, and iterate on dozens of novel ideas that might otherwise not be explored,” according to the Area 120 team. “Most of these experiments will fail. But our teams succeed when we test the limits and learn something new.”

The whole premise of Shoelace, the company says, is to tie people together based on their interests, “like two laces on a shoe.” This is done through activities, which are fittingly called ‘Loops.’ Importantly, you can share activities with others whether or not they have Shoelace.

“Meeting new people is more fun when you have more in common,” according to the app’s dedicated website. “So we make it easy to connect with others who have the same interests.”

“The end result feels a bit like a mashup of Facebook Events with a WhatsApp group chat,” says TechCrunch’s Sarah Perez. “But it’s wrapped in a clean, modern design that appeals more to the millennial or Gen Z user.”

“One of the many projects that we’re working on within Area 120 is Shoelace, an app that helps people meet others with similar interests in person through curated activities,” a Google spokesperson told Business Insider. “Like other projects within Area 120, it’s an early experiment, so there aren’t many details to share right now.”

Shoelace, available on both iOS and Android, is currently operating on an invite-only basis. You can request early access to Shoelace here.