I know, it always seems like Google is coming out with some new feature that sounds cool on paper, but ends up wasting away because it's ugly or not enough people use it or whatever. (That actually happened just yesterday to Google Health and some energy usage meter thing that was only available in San Francisco or something.) But this is serious! This is cool! And it's designed by a former Mac designer, so it even looks good!
For a long time we've heard rumors about a Google social product, a Facebook killer, whatever. But the thing is I don't want Facebook, I want something better. Hopefully this is it.
The first thing that Google+ does is make it easy to organize contacts. Have you ever sorted your contacts or Facebook friends into groups? No, because it's a PITA. Google Circles shows you your contacts and your groups, and you drag and drop. Easy peasy. The rest is sharing (photos, videos, links, yadda yadda) with particular circles, and communicating (text, email, chat, video chat) with your circles. The demo does a great job of explaining it (and it's fun, too!), and TechCrunch has a lengthy explanation with photos.
The part I'm unclear about is whether this will be for only Google users (@gmail.com), so I have to spam people to join it, or if I can include non Google people in my circles. It doesn't sound like its well-integrated outside of Google, but maybe it will be in the future.