Google+ (aka G+) is the result of Google’s effort to “get more personal.” It’s the new social part of the team’s vision. The consensus at Google is, without accomplishing this feat; the giant could end up losing major ground, fast. That isn’t something anyone in the Googleplex wants to cause or even witness.
“We’re still just scratching the surface of marrying human relationships with information. There’s a huge opportunity which someone else will fill — or we will fill,” advised Amit Singhal, a highly respected Google Search Engineer.
G+ is still in “field testing” so they’re releasing invites slowly. If you haven’t received one yet, try to be patient. The product is still in refinement, particularly in the areas of the UI (User Interface / best experience) and some sensitive items (such as privacy issues).
However, from the look of things, G+ is doing very well already. Take, for instance, its most talked about feature, the group video chat known as Hangouts.
Mashable put up a poll five days ago. The question they’re asking is “which video chat product is better: Google+ Hangouts or Facebook Video Chat.” Respondents overwhelmingly chose G+. Check out the results of the 5,616 votes gathered to date:
- Google+ Hangouts 62%
- Facebook Video Chat 8%
- I like both! 6%
- I’m not sure yet 15%
- Video chat is overrated 9%
What are people saying about the rest of what G+ offers?
- The UI is very nice and easy to navigate
- Great features include Hangouts, Circles, Sparks and Huddle (described below)
- It’s free of advertising and spam (so far)
- It has an “atmosphere” unlike other social networks that just “feels nicer”
- It’s integrated with the rest of what Google has to offer (Gmail, Calendar, Documents, Photos, Reader, Videos and more. Plus the “instant upload” feature makes sharing photos and videos extremely easy.)
- Feeds aren’t date/time ordered, updates / comments / +1s result in bumping a post up
(Note: +1 is similar to FB Like)
- Timelines aren’t customizable, you can’t order your stream how you want
Descriptions of G+ Features:
Google believes that with Circles it has solved the tough sharing problem that Facebook has inexplicably failed to crack. “With Facebook I have 500 friends — my mom’s my friend, my boss is my friend,” says Shimrit Ben-Yair, the product manager in charge of the social graph. “So when I share on Facebook, I over share. On Twitter, I under share, because it’s public. If Google hits that spot in the middle, we can revolutionize social interaction.
“Networks are for networking,” Gundotra says. “Circles are for the right people.” Source: Wired
With Circles you can easily group people you add to your network (i.e. Family, Friends, etc.). This feature is much better than lists. You can also isolate your Stream (News feed) for any or all of your Circles.
The Founder of Seesmic and LeWeb conference, Loic Le Meur, wrote a tweet about Google+ that said, “So, if I do a circle “a**holes” and add people in them, they won’t even be able to know I tagged them that way? That’s disappointing :-)” (Astericks are mine.)
This clearly tells you when adding someone to one of your circles, all they know is that you added them.
Hangouts, as previously mentioned is where you can have up to ten people on video chat simultaneously. A super cool trick is that it smoothly switches back and forth between the people chatting, yet it skips your own camera so you don’t have to watch yourself talking!
Your Stream is where all your contacts come together, kind of like your Facebook newsfeed, but it comes across much cleaner, in my opinion. As mentioned, you can select a specific “Circle” (or all Circles) that you want to view, which can cut down greatly on the noise.
Sparks is along the lines of a topic search. You can add specific interests. When you select one, it pulls in current information about your topic. For instance, I set up my Sparks to include web development and social media, etc.
Huddle is all about unlimited group texting. You can probably imagine what this opens up! Get all your friends together and make plans on the go. Planning a Meet up with a lot of your friends? There’s no problem pulling everyone together now.
Have you had a chance to check it out inside? What do you think?
If you haven’t gotten in yet, are you anxious to see what it’s all about?