So, what is Google+? Google+ sounds like the prettier, younger sister of Facebook, but with similar user characteristics and a sleek, clean, barely touched by annoying advertisements interface (so far). What's the big deal with using Google+, besides gaining social media geek street cred? It's what Google learned from other social media platforms that makes all the difference in how you interact with your friends, family, and co-workers.
With the failure of Wave and Buzz it's no wonder that Google was anxious in the release of Google+. The issue with the previous features was perhaps that it wasn't given enough of a chance to generate a solid user base, especially with the excessive popularity of Facebook and Twitter. Google limiting the amount of new users accepted during the field testing trial is annoying when you want to instantly connect with your friends and family when the invite process is on hold until further notice. One of the appeals of using Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and other social networking sites, is that there's already a massive user base instead of a small group of fortunate techies. So much potential is being harnessed due to limited access to invitations.
Limited access isn't the only frustrating aspect of Google+. New are providing feedback, hopefully being used to further better the new social networking site. In an article written by Ben Parr, users discussed areas where Google+ can be improved, such as being able to connect with Google Apps. Another was to add a stream search, a Facebook feature that allows you to search your friends' content for specific information. As with all beta testing there isn't much use in complaining too much about annoyances as its being constantly being updated.
Now for the fun part, what's awesome about Google+. The biggest talked about feature is creating Circles. Now you don't have to worry about your Aunt Susan seeing your party pictures from the weekend nor do your friends need to see baby pictures of your second cousin, whom they've never met. The creation of circles allows you to share what you want to share with specifically those who actually care about what you're sharing, especially with the instant upload of photos from your mobile device. You can share what you find searching through Sparks, which is similar to Stumbleupon. Websites are generated in a newsfeed that are related to your key word interests that you can save.
Facebook has group chat ability but the majority of the groups created are based on a general interest or subject with thousands of members. Google+ has a feature called Huddle which allows you to create group chats via text messaging with your friends only. It's reminiscent of a group chat on AIM but more accessible because it's on your phone. The Hangout aspect allows you to basically do a Huddle but with the addition of video. It's an alternative option to Skype and you can have up to 10 users in a Hangout without having to pay a premium price for that feature.
The simply designed interface is easy enough to navigate even for the most basic internet user. You're able to use Google+ along with other Google tabs, like Gmail and Reader. It's just another extension (get it, Google plus) of the toolbar. You can connect with friends and family and surf the web without ever having to leave Google. Facebook and Twitter can't do that. We see what you did there Google and it was clever.
Lastly, there are some well appreciated privacy elements to Google+. You can disable comments on your posts and you can disable other users sharing your posts to their friends, a big added bonus. Also, you can 'defriend' someone without offending them by simply removing them from your circles. They no longer can see what you share but avoid that awkward moment where they find out that they can't see your page anymore. Of course, if blocking is necessary that option is available as well.
All in all, what is Google+? It provides competition for other social networking sites that shouldn't be taken lightly. However, once you get your hands on an invite, established sites will have the leg up until Google+ is open to anyone and everyone. The fact that it's new and unavailable will also generate interest but people aren't just going to drop their Facebook or Twitter accounts just yet. We'll just have to wait and see if Google+ lives up to the hype and hopefully it won't disappoint.
Author: Charlotte Zoda / Posted: 25-07-2011