Google+ First Impressions

Posted: July 7, 2011 in Reviews
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I’ve had the pleasure of being an early adopter of Google+, Google’s latest foray into social, and it. is. great! Every aspect of G+, from its bright, clean user interface, to features like circles and hangouts, is a much-welcomed change to its increasingly stale-looking competitor Facebook. Let’s dive into it shall we?

Circles

Circles is by far the most invaluable feature of Google+. When adding your friends to the network, you add them to Circles, which is basically a more intuitive and useful version of Facebook’s Lists. Whenever you share updates, photos, or links you have the option to pick which of your circles will be able to see it. Say you’re a teacher who has a life, you can choose to have your vacation photos shared with only your Friends and Family circles, while your Students, Business Associates, Acquaintances, and others can only see the professional side of you. This eliminates the stress of having to juggle multiple online personalities (for example, a business and personal page) because you have complete control over who gets to see what.

Another great part of circles is that the user your adding isn’t notified of which circle they’re added to, they’re just notified that they have been added to one of your circles (just like in real life if you think about it). This means that in addition to the typical Friends, Family, and Acquaintances circles, your free to make circles called Ex’s, Annoying People, Stalkers, etc.

Circles are also a way to filter which status updates you want to focus on. For example, if a group of people is filling up your Stream with updates that you really don’t care about, you can focus on Streams that are more important to you by clicking on the circle on the left-hand panel. The panel on the left lists all of the circles you have made, and when clicking on it you get updates from that Stream only. You can switch streams just by clicking on the circle title. Its really easy and one of the many important features which Facebook overlooked and Google is seeking to capitalize on.

Hangouts

Hangouts is probably one of the flagship features of Google+. Hangouts allow you to easily videochat with up to 10 of your friends at a time (for free, unlike Skype). It shows the camera of the person who’s talking and underneath it you have smaller camera feeds of your friends hanging out and whenever someone new starts talking their camera will shift into the spotlight. Its pretty cool because in addition to just talking to each other, you can also watch YouTube videos together. I think this will be a great way to get the general public warmed up to video-calling.

Notifications

This is by far the greatest feature (to Google atleast) that will keep users sucked in to Google+. You ever noticed that black bar on top of the page whenever your on a Google product (Search, Gmail, Reader, Calendar, etc)? Well that same bar is the notification bar that keeps people addicted to Facebook. I know what you’re thinking, why is this any better than Facebook’s notification bar? Well because with Facebook, you can only check your notifications when your on Facebook’s website. But people spend a large portion of their time either searching Google, checking their Gmail, reading the RSS feeds, or using any other Google products. So instead of having to stop what your doing on the internet to check your Facebook, you get a red notification box on top of whatever Google page your on and the ability to read the notification, and reply to the notification from whatever Google page you’re on. Brilliant!

Character

Google+ has maintained a minimalistic design, while still allowing users to add some character to their profile pages and status updates. You can add up to five photos on top of the About portion of your profile, which I’m sure people will start doing very creative hacks with. You can also bold, italicize, and strikethrough text throughout G+ which is a great addition so you won’t have to capitalize your words whenever you want to emphasize them.

Conclusion

Google+ is the Facebook killer. If you have a lot of friends from different interest groups (which I’m sure you do) then migrate to Google+, and bring everybody with you. If you get tired of having to think twice if you should post something that some people may not understand, get offended by, or that some people just don’t need to know about other than close friends or family, then migrate to Google+, and bring everybody with you. If you don’t want your girlfriend to know whenever you commented on another girl’s photo or status update, or just believe that Facebook broadcasts waaaay too much information about what your doing to the rest of your friends, then migrate to Google+, and bring everybody with you. If you’re tired of Facebook’s garbage Android app, then migrate to Google+, and bring everybody with you. If you want better control over privacy, a vibrant user interface, a better online social interaction experience, and the best of Facebook, MySpace, and Twitter + more in one package, then migrate to Google+, and bring everybody with you.

This is how a social network should be. End of story. I can’t wait until its open to the rest of the world!

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