When I tell people about Google+ the response is usually something about how it’s “just like Facebook.” And that’s true to a point: Google+ is similar to Facebook in that you type some stuff, press enter, and then your friends can read that stuff. What makes Google+ awesome is how it does all that stuff better.
One of the main ways it does that is by making it easier to control WHO can read your stuff on a post-by-post basis. Google+ lets you organize your friends into groups called Circles, which makes getting the stuff you share to who you want to see it easier.
For example, I might want to share directions to a campsite for a family reunion, but the people I went to NAIT with probably don’t need to see that. All I need to do is choose which users or circles I want to see that post and hit share.
Easy peasy. Facebook recently implemented similar functionality, but the process isn’t as streamlined. That Google is focusing on making the process of doing this kind of stuff more apparent to the user is a significant draw.
Google+’s one-to-many style of user relationships is more akin to Twitter than Facebook in that it enables you follow someone without them being forced to follow you back. This is useful for situations when people want to see what globetrotting superstars like Wil Wheaton are up to without said superstar being bothered by thousands of friend requests from strangers.
Google+’s sphere of influence even encroaches on Skype’s video chat territory with Google+ Hangouts.
Users can chat with up to 10 people and invite specific users or circles, or just make the Hangout open to anyone. The video and audio quality is comparable with Skype, and there are some neat features such as making whoever is talking at the moment appear in the main view, and shared YouTube viewing. Also this feature is free, which is interesting when you consider that Skype charges for group video chat.
The most annoying part of Facebook are the games. Thankfully the spam has been mostly subdued recently. Google+ also features games which you can get to by clicking a button in the main menu. Other than that, you won’t even know people are playing them, which is how it should be.
But by far, the best and arguably most utilized Google+ feature, at least in my circles, is the ability to embed animated gifs directly into the stream.
Do I have to say anything else? No. No I don’t.
Currently Google+ is invite only, but each person that does get in is given 150 invites. So hey, if you want to give Google+ a try, feel free to email me at brendan at purevisioninc dot com and I’ll get one to you. All you need is a Google account, which if you don’t already have, you’re doing the Internet wrong.
Google+ isn’t going to take down Facebook or Twitter, but there’s definitely room on the Internet for a third Social Network giant.