Google+ has just been launched to a limited release and I have spent a few days playing around with the new Social Website. Whilst it is not perfect and needs some better integration – it’s potentially is enormous and already it has become the best social network tool for a generation that wants a smarter more private platform.
A few years ago I gave a talk to a real estate franchise group in Adelaide and told the audience that I shared Twitter and Linkedin with pretty much anyone, but wanted to keep my Facebook just for family and close friends – I even had a 100 rule, that is I would never go over a hundred family and friends, this made it a culling process as I quickly reached 100, and it also earned me some ire on occasions. Over the past few years has become impossible, I mean, how do you tell a client you like and that spends their hard earned money with you that you have just denied them friendship on Facebook, how do you tell a childhood sweetheart that that ‘pash’ we had behind the gym meant nothing to me (when every single one of them is still indelibly imprinted in my mind) and that after meeting a new friend in a new city that you have strict rules of engagement on your Facebook profile, yes, you see where I am going – put me immediately in the strange “Circle”!
I know Facebook allows you to do some major tweaking to make it limited for certain types of users, but it is very primitive and way too time consuming and definitely a programming afterthought.
Facebook also has some of the most ridiculous algorithms for filling up your profile wall and news feed with junk from books, movies etc and people you like who have a strange tendency to click on anything slightly pornographic!
Don’t get me wrong, Facebook is great, you can share and connect with friends, but to me, something just seems missing from the experience and it is definitely not friends sharing the minutia of their daily life with me or celebrating some dunce unelected peer marrying another dunce. It just seems so 2009!
Enter Google+, Google Plus is Google’s challenge to Facebook and really is the evolution of Facebook for people who want to selectively share/connect their personal information all in very unlike Google beautiful way.
The interface is gorgeous and very intuitive and getting up and running is a breeze, I have added a link here to the demo here so you can have a play for yourself and see what I am talking about.
Here is Google’s Take on the main features, you will see I have added a brief comment in italics below each of Google’s comments and a video guide for each of the major features.
You share different things with different people. So sharing the right stuff with the right people shouldn’t be a hassle. Circles makes it easy to put your friends from Saturday night in one circle, your parents in another, and your boss in a circle by himself – just like real life.
The Circles tools is easily the most powerful tool and is seriously cool. Just watch Facebook try to emulate this as their groups settings is a major programming and user embarrassment.
With Hangouts, the unplanned meet-up comes to the web for the first time. Let specific buddies (or entire circles) know you’re hanging out and then see who drops by for a face-to-face-to-face chat. Until teleportation arrives, it’s the next best thing.
This is another great feature, adding people is easy and the video chat is of great quality. I can see meetings, catching up with the family on special occasions and sharing old times with friends
Taking photos is fun. Sharing photos is fun. Getting photos off your phone is pretty much the opposite of fun. With Instant Upload, your photos and videos upload themselves automatically, to a private album on Google+. All you have to do is decide who to share them with.
This was also a breeze for me, although I have read some threads where some users did not have the same experience.
Tell Sparks what you’re into and it will send you stuff it thinks you’ll like, so when you’re free, there’s always something cool to watch, read, or share.
Sparks needs some work, it can be a little overwhelming and you will need to be sure you enter terms carefully or you maybe presented with too much information
Texting is great, but not when you’re trying to get six different people to decide on a movie. Huddle turns all those different conversations into one simple group chat, so everyone gets on the same page all at once. Your thumbs will thank you.
I loved this feature, although I currently have limited people to share it with, but I can see this being another great addition to the suite.
Future Support for Business
Google has made is clear it will add support for it’s business clients later in the year, this is a bit of a pain, as I want it now and will have to delete my profile when the business version is added, or have two profiles, not good!
What’s wrong with it so far?
No Google Apps Integration, this seems silly and possibly a sign the product was a little rushed, but this needs to be done ASAP – these are your premium customers Google!
Product Manager Christian Oestlien says that the Google+ is working on creating a unique experience for business customers that includes many of the features business use such as analytics and adwords. “How users communicate with each other is different from how they communicate with brands,” Oestlien argues.
There are still some bugs around and updating sometimes throttled and was slow. This is a limited first release, so I am not going to be too harsh on this at the moment.
Overall Google Plus is a killer product and one that users with varied interests, privacy concerns will embrace en-masse.I can also see this as being a great education tool for schools and projects.
It is by far the best personal/business social networking tool on offer and you can kiss Linkedin.com goodbye, which wouldn’t be hard to do as it is by far the worst large social site out there (too many chest thumpers).
I am seriously so enthralled by this technology and really, it has come from nowhere. I cannot tell you how cool this is, you will have to experience it for yourself.
Will it top Facebook? Well, firstly I am not sure it needs to, but this will be my destination, primarily because I already use so many of Google’s Apps and so many of their tools already. There is also a small user base compared to Facebook and only when it kicks to the 10’s of millions of users will we see if it explodes in growth from there.
I just wished it came from someone other than Google, I am seriously disappointed with the innovation of Australia’s Largest Media companies who seem to be just stuck in this mentality of “well if someone builds something cool we will just buy it”. The problem is that everything that is super cool surpasses even their budgets and they are left buying companies that are very easy to beat in the long run or they beat them to death until they are a shadow of their former selves.
Google Getting its Groove
Google is learning from Apple here as well, interfaces that are beautiful do work, if they are done in a simplistic stylish manner and this looks like an Apple Product and it works! Google has always been about user interfaces and mainly text based, but this shows you can mix it up a little with nice icons and beautiful font usage.