Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) Nov. 10 said it has purchased Katango, whose social software algorithms the search engine provider will likely use to automate the population of Google+ Circles.
With over 40 million users and counting since June 28, Google+ is humming along. Yet Google has shown a compulsion to continually iterate and augment the Facebook alternative, not unlike the way it constantly tunes its world-beating search engine.
Google will use Katango's software to improve its Circles social construct, which allows users to follow anyone on the network and partition clusters of users. However, Googlers were intentionally vague on the exact nature of the application of Katango on Circles.
Google Vice President of Product Management Bradley Horowitz did not make it clear in a brief Google+ post on the matter. "In the earliest days of Google+, I alluded to the fact that we had big plans for Circles," Horowitz wrote. "Are you ready for some magic in your Circles? These folks are magicians!"
Asked for more information on the integration, a Google spokesperson told eWEEK: "We were impressed by the Katango team's innovative approach to making your social circles smarter, and we think they'll be a great addition to the Google+ team."
Here's what we know of Katango now, which sheds some light as to what its software will do for Circles, courtesy of The New York Times.
The startup initially launched last summer as an iPhone application that dynamically organizes Facebook friends based on their profile information, and historical and present interactions with friends.
For example, as the Times noted, Katango will detect who is a family member, who attended the same high school or who lives in the same city, and place them in the relevant group. Those users can then connect with each other on their own time.
Katango was not compatible with Google+ at launch, so some code tweaking is in order.
Yet it's easy to see how such technology could be applied to make the population of Google+ Circles, which is currently completely manual and totally tedious, more bearable. In fact, power Google+ users feeling Circle fatigue can't wait for this technology to come to bear on the social network.
It remains to be seen whether the technology will provide the nuances Google+ leadership likes to say the social network was created to promote.
Katango joins newly acquired Apture as one of the nearly 60 acquisitions Google has made in 2011, totaling over $1.4 billion. One of those, Fridge, was snapped up back in July to boost Google+. Fridge specializes in letting users create private groups in social networks.