11. July 2011 16:18
You have all heard of Google,
but have you heard of Google+ (PLUS)?
If not, its Google’s answer to social networking, a new service that launched just a couple of weeks ago, although access to the service is limited by invitation only at this time. We were lucky enough to receive an invite in the first couple of days, so I thought it was about time I shared my thoughts on the new service, and how it shapes up against other players in the social network scene such as Facebook and Twitter.
Ok, let’s get started…
The first thing you will notice is how clean and uncluttered the interface is, well done Google.
One of the core elements to Google+ is a feature called ‘Circles’. This feature allows you to put your contacts into groups and you can create as many groups as you like. When you want to share something you select which circles can see that content, it’s as simple as that. This feature is a lot more powerful than you might think, as it allows you to share different content with the many kinds of contacts you have on the internet. Like me, you probably have quite a lot of acquaintances or friends you have made online but never actual met, so you could put those contacts into a circle called ‘Internet acquaintances’ likewise all my work colleges could go in a circle called ‘Work Colleges’ and all my family members into another circle called ‘Family’ you get the idea. Now anything I share with a particular circle will be visible by all contacts within that circle.
A feature that I particularly like and find very useful is the ability to instantly upload video and photos from your mobile phone to your Google+ account. The photos are stored in a secure section of Google+ for you to share with your contacts. I like the idea that my phones images and video are being backed up, in the event of my phone being lost or stolen.
Another feature of Google+ is ‘Sparks’. In essence it’s a search feature specifically designed to find content that matters to you, with the added ability to share this content with contacts in your circles at the click of a button.
Now I have saved the best till last, and this is a great new service called ‘Hangouts’ so what is hangouts? Well essentially its video chat, but not as you know it. It allows multiple people to join in the conversation, but better than that it monitors the conversation so whoever is talking has the main focus on the screen, it’s just like there is someone in the background switching the focus of the camera for you, its absolutely seamless and well worth checking out. I have found it totally addictive and have spent many an evening turning into bed in the early hours, after getting engrossed in conversations with our friends in the USA and Canada.
Google have made a very good start with their Google+ service, it does seem to be catering for a slightly different audience to Facebook with its user being a little bit more technically minded, but this is probably due to the controlled rollout of Google+ by invitation only. At present it’s a nice place to be without all the noise you get from Facebook and Twitter. Everybody I have chatted to on Google+ so far have praised the new service, and I must admit I have hardly used Facebook or Twitter over the last couple of weeks. I’m looking forward to seeing where Google take their new social network experiment in the future, I for one hope that they go from strength to strength becoming as successful with social networking as they are with Internet search.
It is speculated that Google+ has approximately 5 million users as of 11th July 2011 (compared to Facebook’s 750 million users), that’s not bad considering they only launched about two weeks ago and have been restricting access to their service by invite only, and even if you have an invite you can’t just sign up because Google are restricting the rate of signup to make sure they don’t overload their servers.
If you don’t have a Google+ invite and want to see what all the fuss is about, post a comment below or email firstname.lastname@example.org with your email address (preferably a Google email address as they work better) and I will send you an invite.
If you have a Google+ account, let us know what you think of their services by commenting below.