With Google’s +1 button becoming a big hit all around the Internet, I finally decided to look more into this whole Google+ thing I’ve been hearing so much about. My interest was actually piqued when i read that this new social network could potentially be a ‘Facebook killer’ which, while slightly farcical, got me looking. Luckily, Google+ has set up a sleek and shiny preview to play around with, complete with witty commentary and writing. Just fair warning, I’ll be making a great amount of comparison with Facebook. Also, these impressions are all based off of the Google+ interactive tour, and all of these features could be changed before launch (though major changes are unlikely).
Circles are the Google+ versions of friends list and groups, and seems to be the central premise of the new social network. After years of having a Facebook I still have yet to group anyone but my family into a cohesive list. Why? Facebook’s way is clunky and tedious, so I simply put it off. From what the Google+ tour has shown, their way is MUCH easier, as well as smooth, easily making this my favorite feature. You simply set up your “Circles”, and then drag and drop your friends into them. That’s it. No drop down menus, no hassle. How slick this feature will work for someone with 1000+ friends is a concern of mine however. It’s perfect with the 8 sample friends in the tour, but I can’t help be imagine it slowing down at least a bit to process higher friend counts.
Similar to checking in on Facebook, Hangouts are where you post your location and notify certain friends, all friends or specific Circles where you are, inviting them to join you. The ability to limit it to certain friends is nice, and eliminates the awkwardness letting everyone know where you are when they live several states away from you. As Google+ says, “Until teleportation arrives, it’s the next best thing.”
3. Instant Upload
While I’ve never really had any problems uploading photos from my phone to the interwebs, Google+ claims that doing so is the opposite of fun. Enter Instant Upload. From what I can gather, you’ll be able to access your phone’s camera through some sort of app. After you take a picture it will automatically load the picture to a private album in your Google+ account, letting you go in and choose from there which ones you want to share. The best part of this to me is that it will cut down on upload time, allowing for more picture taking. All in all a nice feature but not a stand out one yet.
Sparks seems to sort of be like Apple’s Genius. You type in something that interests you and it pulls up things related to that subject so that “…when you’re free, there’s always something cool to watch, read, or share.” On the surface, it really just seems like a Google search engine where you can save your searches…which is just another part of regular Google if i’m not mistaken. However there’s not much info on what exactly the search brings you, so it could be tailored more than they’re letting on. Or not.
Huddle seems to be a more cohesive and organized version of Hangouts. It’s supposed to essentially take one of your Circles and establish a texting chat room of sorts that all those included can type into. This is perfect for coordinating group outings and avoiding the eventual carpal tunnel that ensues from trying to organize one before. As the tour says: “Your thumbs will thank you.”
I’m actually pretty excited about Google+. Anything shiny and new that’s also smooth as silk is okay in my book. Some of the more trivial features make me think that this won’t necessarily kill Facebook, but rather become just another social network to add to the list. Hopefully the launch will go well, and Google+ can deliver on all accounts.
Be sure to take the interactive tour for yourself. It’s a great hands on of things to come: www.google.com/intl/en/+/demo
Google+ is still in a trial period and is invite only at this time. However, if you’d like an invite, please email me at Jake@milbymedia.com