First Look at Google+

Google recently unveiled Google +, their new attempt to compete in the social networking world.  I was lucky enough to get an invitation to join this new network, and so far, I can tell it will be more successful than Google’s last attempt with Buzz.  But what everyone wants to know is, is Google+ good enough to compete and out-do Facebook? I can’t say for sure, since it is in a trial period and Google is constantly tweaking and fixing bugs. I also can’t grasp all the capabilities since I only have a few people to interact with, but so far, Google+ brings a lot of interesting features that set it apart. Google is saying ‘bring it on.’

First off, I love the design. It is simple and clean. At the top you have your navigation; Home, Photos, Profile, Circles, and a People Search. On the left side, you have your “Stream” selections (friends, co-workers, family, etc), followed by your “Sparks” (news feeds that spark your interest), and then your “Chat” list. The middle of the screen contains your stream feed.  And the right hand side, shows your circles and invites you to “Hangout.” I can see this right side inevitably being filled with advertisements.

I mentioned that there were some interesting features that set Google+ apart from other social networking sites, mainly the features “Circles” and “Hangout.”

When you first start Google+, you are instructed to create “circles.”  This feature lets you organize and segregate your contacts, allowing for selective sharing. You have control of who sees what you post and update on your stream. This way you don’t have to worry about an unintended person seeing it.  Unlike Facebook, where you can only decide whether or not to ‘friend’ someone and then set their privacy level.  Another nice thing about the “Circle” feature is that you can add non-Google+ users to a group and they will receive your posts and updates via e-mail.

The most interesting feature of Google+ is the “Hangout.”  This feature lets users chat (and video chat) with multiple others. Essentially, it’s like everyone is just chillin’ at your house. Or if you’re more of a professional type, it’s like a group conference. To begin a hangout, you post it on your stream, and others can join – i believe up to 10 people. I can see this being really popular for teenagers, i can also see it replacing Skype.

The mobile app is also very nice.  Like the website, the app design is clean and simple. The navigation is similar too, it consists of ‘stream’, ‘photos’, ‘circle’, ‘profile’, and ‘huddle’. Huddle replaces hangout, renamed I think because the video portion is not available in mobile yet. Huddle is like a mass text or e-mail, making group decisions easier. I hear there is a lot more to this mobile app, but i haven’t been able to play with it as much as the website, so that is all i have to say for now 😉

Being a Gmail user, I welcome Google+.  Google has done a nice job of interconnecting all of their products. Like their Calender feature, Google+ becomes an extension of the rest of the Google Products. I could be chatting in Gmail, tab over to Google+ and my conversation will travel with me. I’m excited for this product, I think Google did it right this time and I can’t wait till the product is open up to everyone!

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