Google+, Google’s contribution to the social networking world. We’ve all probably heard of it by now, with the surge of ‘I now have Google+! Who wants invites?’, on our Facebook newsfeeds. So what’s the hype about, and is it really worth it?
After the questionable successes of Google Buzz and Google Wave, you may ask, ‘Why bother?’. Well, Google are carefully picking out the large markets on the internet, and social networking is definitely one of them, which they haven’t yet managed to break into. Google+ however, seems to be a lot more welcomed than its ill-fated forefathers, with a debate already brewing…is Facebook the new MySpace?
The main advantage, and difference with Google+, is the way that you can share. It allows you to create ‘circles’, for family, friends. etc, and share specific content with each circle. For example, photos from a night out you only want your friends to see but perhaps not your family or your boss. This puts you in firm of control of what you communicate with whom. In Facebook however, if you post something, everyone can see it, unless you remember to use custom privacy settings to prevent certain people seeing a post, which after a while, can get a bit tedious.
This is all well and dandy, and some people are still going to criticise Google+ as a derivative of Facebook. On one hand it is, the service mainly revolves around contributing updates to a Facebook style Newsfeed called a ‘Stream’. However, it is unique in its own way, the concept of the circles is brilliant and intuitive to pick up, how many times have you heard of people complaining about the difficulty in understanding Facebook privacy? Well, this sorts it.
We also have the much awaited ‘Hangout’ feature, a group video chat with contacts. Facebook, once hearing this, launched their own Facebook video calling in collaboration with Skype. However, this only allows you to call one contact at a time, and if you are on Linux you may have some difficulty installing the plugin. Google, on the other hand easily takes care of such installation problems, so you don’t really have to fiddle about with the techie stuff.
One major difference, or perhaps even a flaw in the Google+ design, is how you have no such thing as a ‘Wall’ to write on friends’ profiles; you would have to either message them or call them. There’s nothing WRONG with this, but writing a quick note on someone’s wall, can be slightly more convenient.
However, it must be noted that this is only a beta version, so many features are not present. Nevertheless, the potential for Google+ to turn into a fully fledged social networking service is there, but there is nothing revolutionary Google have done to change the face of social networking, everything is just new and shinier.
Overall, I’m impressed with Google+, knowing there is more to come. But it is going to be a challenge for Google to move users over from Facebook, when all they hear is the constant song of ‘Anything You Can Do I Can Do Better’, from Facebook.