You remember the first time you swapped your old Nokia for a smartphone, well… this is nothing like that. This is, if you will excuse the obvious analogy, more like switching from iOS to Android. Which is better? It’s possible that WWIII is going to be started by someone saying “iPhone sucks” and cities will crumble to the chant of “Android rulez” so I might skip over that.
You would have to think after Buzz and Wave bombed this is probably Google’s last try at entering the social space, it’s getting a little embarrassing it feels a little like watching a friend strike out with every girl at a party. But you know what they say… the third/fourth/fifth time’s a charm! And from what I’ve seen this time they may just have done it right…
Ask yourself a question… when was the last time that Facebook had a major update that felt like you, the user, were the driving force. It’s been a long time. This is a fact that has, obviously, been keenly observed by Google: “We’d like to bring the nuance and richness of real-life sharing to software. We want to make Google better by including you, your relationships, and your interests”
So, onward to the features:
The main feature of Google+ is Circles. Based around the idea that people do not want to share everything with everyone and the word ‘friend’ does not mean one thing, it encompasses lifelong friends, university friends and people you barely know so why would you treat them all in the same way.
What is really refreshing about Circles is that you don’t have to be a Google+ member to take part, if someone adds you to a circle you can still interact via e-mail. There’s not a ‘Like’-gate on everything.
With Sparks, Google delivers a feed of content to you based on your interests. Allowing you to read/watch blogs, sites and videos from across the internet and share it with your circles.
I’m unsure how useful the Hangout feature is but it’s certainly very cool and at least based on a real life concept of meeting up with a group of friends unplanned and simply hanging out. “By combining the casual meetup with live multi-person video, Hangouts lets you stop by when you’re free, and spend time with your Circles. Face-to-face-to-face”
With Google+, mobile hasn’t come as an afterthought, it’s built into the core aspects of the project with features specifically designed for mobile;
Location: With Google+ you can add your location to every post, but only if you want to.
Instant upload: While taking photos on your phone they will automatically be stored in the cloud, so they are always available and ready to share. Again this will only be done with your permission.
Huddle: Huddle is a group messaging service connecting you to your entire circle immediately.
And here’s some initial thoughts from our team:
“This is a pretty exciting development but will surly move towards its full capacity when the Android OS is full optimised to support it. The massive growth in Android phones will give Google a fantastic platform to promote this ‘social network’ as well as the huge audience who already live online through the multitude of Google products.” – Welton
“In all, I think the more Google services one uses the better this will work. Your searches, bookmarks, contacts and people you regularly email/text/chat will more than likely play a huge role.” – Adam
“Initial reports are really interesting and it sounds like Google have put an immense amount of effort into a wide range of areas.
I’m excited by the prospect of it being far easier or quicker to share particular things with different sets of people as opposed to discovering something and then having to log in to Facebook, find a friend and post to their wall or inbox. It sounds like it might be easier to interact with different types of contacts rather than having to get bogged down in Facebook’s limited profile and privacy settings to maintain your social boundaries online.” – Tony
So your next question is… where do I sign up? right? Well slight problem like all of Google’s ventures you’ll need to sign up and wait for an invite, in the mean time you should hit up any friends who have any connection to Google whatsoever to try to get an advanced invite (oh and send one my way while you’re at it!).