It’s time for Facebook to get scared... Or, is it? Many bloggers and tech “experts” are suggesting that Google+ is going to lure people away from Facebook. I do not personally think that it will interfere with Facebook’s plans for world domination. While Google+ is gaining notoriety and intrigue from non-invited social networkers, so did Google Buzz. While I don’t feel that I need to explain that last line, let me just say that I am not saying that this is like Google Buzz because it’s not. This is the attempt at social networking that we expected from Buzz. I think that it will gain users, but I don’t think people will stray away from Facebook. Google+ is going to be used more as a business tool than to talk to friends. It will also be used for certain groups of people and “tech heads”. It will be used more for work than play, in my honest opinion. Now I could be completely wrong, and given my track record, I probably am.
To sum it up and add in some details I forgot, Google+ is an excellent attempt at social networking and if they continue the project and let it evolve into what it is supposed to be then I think they may have something here. I believe that Google+ would be an excellent tool for business use. You can have conference video chats, collaborate with users in Google Docs, and have selected people in certain circles. You control what they will see from you, and people love having control.
Google+ is different. Different in a “the easy way to share things” way. So basically, it’s different in a good way. In my opinion, it’s far from Facebook. Google had a privacy fiasco with Google Buzz, but here they’ve flipped the tables. With Google+ and Circles, you have all the privacy control you could ask for in a simple, clean, and easy to use interface. Compared to Facebook, Google+ seems minimalistic, which in my opinion is awesome. Maybe it seems this way because of how corporate Facebook has become. You may say, “Well, Google+ will get there, don’t worry.” And while you may very well be right, there’s a strong chance you’re dead wrong. Think about it. Google is one of the largest advertising entities on the web. If they wanted Google+ to be another way to make money it would probably already be plastered with ads, unless they’re smart. They could just be avoiding the ads until it becomes popular because they know the first inhabitants will be tech nerds who don’t want advertising and corporate B.S., and without these pioneers to spread the word, it would crash harder than the ancient empire of MySpace. Anyways...
Google+ is great, and has amazing potential. I’ve been waiting for something like this for a while now. Something that makes getting in touch with small groups of people, all at once, easy. Are you the social coordinator for your group(s) of friends, coworkers, or family? Then Google+ is for you. I’m sorry, but Facebook just doesn’t work for me. It’s too clunky. I almost hate to bring up this comparison, but Facebook is the Windows of social networking and Google+ is the Apple. Facebook works and, for the most part, everyone likes it, but it’s bloated. Like I said earlier, Google+ is minimalistic.
A Circle, or even a Huddle, is an amazing way to communicate with the group of your choice. A Huddle is a lot like a Facebook message to multiple people, but even still, it just seems smoother. Facebook messages, events, groups, I’m just not a fan. I honestly think Google+ has what it takes to be a very serious competitor in the social networking industry, but I don’t think it will take down Facebook. They’re very different. Right now, my main use for Google+ is to collaborate on this website. If I want to communicate with my other friends, I have to switch back to Facebook. Hopefully, this will change shortly, but we’ll see. I think Google+ is a much better tool for selectively sharing things quickly and easily, but right now Facebook still has the power.
For those of you who currently are lucky enough to be part of the Google+ field trial, and happen to have an iPhone, you need to check out the new Google+ app. It’s pretty sweet. Although, there are definitely some necessary improvements.
- The ability to post to a Circle when viewing that Circle’s posts. Currently, posts can only be made from the main stream, and from there you can choose which Circles you want to view the post. This is slow, and not conducive to what Google+ should be, which is simple, fast, and smooth.
- Auto-clear Huddle notifications while still in the Huddle. I have had to leave the Huddle and click on it again in order to remove the notifications tag on the Huddle saying that I had unread messages, which was false. Not a big deal, but nonetheless, something that needs fixing.
- Suggested People. Please fix this. In both the iPhone app and the webapp. If someone from my contacts doesn’t have Google+, don’t suggest that I add them. It’s annoying. Instead what Google should do, is what Facebook does. Suggest people from my extended network who ALREADY HAVE GOOGLE+. If I want to invite someone, I will.
- Hey, Google+ webapp, where’s my Huddles? If the Huddles are there somewhere then make it easier to find them, and if they are not then please get them there because it’s a feature that should be there.
The looming shadow that Facebook leaves is quite daunting to say the least. The social network that can connect everyone from your pet to your grandparents has used ingenuity and a user friendly interface to conquer social connection. Such a juggernaut will only be taken down by the likes of a worthy foe. Twitter, etc have all tried and while they have received a bit of success; the phrase "Facebook me" still stands tall.
In comes a new adversary: The very popular, powerhouse company that is Google have put their own twist and flavor in the battle and released a social networking site called Google+. While I have gotten a taste of the actual website, it is the mobile app that I was most interested in. And it comes to some surprise that Google has actually submitted its own app to not just Android OS but to iOS as well.
At first impression, one might feel that Google+ is simple and plain. Maybe a bit too plain. The advantage of Facebook is that it contains numerous qualities and aspects about it (I.E. games, pictures, videos, statuses, groups, pages, etc). You may feel that a social network will have to have as many or more qualities to ensure the user can commit to such a big change to ones life. I am here to settle those doubts.
Google has put forth its usual formula. Keep it simple. Keep it user friendly. And keep its Google flair. Immediately, the mobile app offers five icons that are distinctively Google-esque.
The first icon and the one people will be most interested in is Stream. It provides the statuses and updates of everyone you are friends with while allowing for your own personal updates. The twist is that Google will actually update you on Google+ members that are nearby your location. Useful? Maybe not to everyone, but it is quite handy to know that a local, nearby company has 25 cent wings every Wednesday night.
The next icon which is to the right of Stream is Huddle. This particular feature is very similar to Facebook messages. It will allow you to create a "huddle" with anyone you want so you can have private conversations, like about how hot the girl is next to you. Fantastic. This is where I would recommend an improvement. To all of you Google designers that will obviously be reading this, please allow us to individually comment on someones message within a huddle. Thus, allowing us to talk about more than one topic without entirely getting lost. A Huddle is a perfect way to plan events, talk about websites, girls and even cheat on various tests but without a way to comment about one message in particular, it leaves much to be desired.
Photos is next and it happens to be one of my favorite parts of Google+. It is a very basic system that allows you to see photos of your Circles (we'll come back to that), of yourself, your albums and even has a section for photos on your phone. It's easy to upload, easy to use, and a very pretty interface if I do say so myself. The one issue; where are the video options? Might want to consider that one Google...
The last and most interesting, yet flawed, aspect of Google+ are the Circles. As you build up your friends list, you are allowed to create "Circles," or in other words, categorize your friends and family. "Heinous d@#@$" might be a new favorite category of mine. I love this feature. I also hate it. I see a Circle as a way to communicate or see certain statuses at one time. It accomplishes the latter; however it does not allow you to easily filter status updates to one circle (sound a little confusing? Let me explain).
So if I want to complain to my "guys only, girls have cooties club", I can post a status update to a single Circle, but in the mobile app this is slightly convoluted because you are forced to go back to the Stream and select that Circle. It would be much easier to be able to post to a specific Circle while viewing that Circle's stream. My suggestion, make each Circle have its own "wall" thus allowing the stream to be a universal updating place. I have gossip Google...and it's only for certain people to read.
Will Google+ tear away devoted Facebook users? Only time will tell. Until time does say something along those lines, I strongly urge you to try it out. Google+ is the strongest competitor to date for Facebook and although it is young and has much to learn (fix), it will get the job done. Setting up drinking nights together has never been so easy.
I have one quick thing to add to what Jordan was saying. I was actually thinking about Circles earlier today because of an article that I read, which suggested Circles can become tiring unless “done right” by the user. I completely see where this idea is coming from, but I also think Google can do something to ease our pain as well. Right now, I think Circles are amazing. It's ALMOST exactly what I've been waiting for. I just wish that there was an option to treat a specific Circle essentially like a Facebook group. It would basically be an invite to a unique Circle in which the person would have to accept the Circle request, and in doing so would accept that Circle, and its members, as their own. The only posts that come up in this particular Circle stream are posts that were made for this Circle. This way, you don't have all the other garbage posts and updates cluttering that Circle’s Stream. It would make for much easier collaboration, like a Facebook Group Wall where people can comment on specific ideas.
Huddles are cool, but are essentially just group messages and don't have the wall-like functionality. Google could call it Spheres... Or something like that. Google needs to incorporate this exclusive wall feature somewhere, whether it be in special Circles (Spheres) or in Huddles. I honestly don’t care which, but they need it.
Written by: Ryan, Andy G, and Jordan