This week’s pick is the latest, greatest, most amazing, spectacular… ah screw it. It’s just another social media thing. Google+ is Google’s latest entry into the social media arena, and this time I think they have succeeded. Google+ is still in a closed, invite only BETA, but if you know someone with an account they can send you an invite. As of this post, the people I have sent invites to have been able to get in instantly.
Social media sites can be hard to explain. Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, Buzz, and the list goes on with names that did not survive. Let’s start with this: Google+ is not Buzz 2.0. In fact, in the tech circles – which is mostly who participates in the closed BETA now – Google+ is different things to different people. Some think it’s going after Facebook, others think it’s aiming at Twitter, and others think both. I don’t think it will kill Twitter because the 140 character limit on Twitter is unique. Will it hurt Twitter? It might, but I don’t think it will be a major issue anytime soon. To me it is more of a Facebook type thing and there-in lies the issue.
Will Google+ have any features, or attraction, that will be reason enough for the masses to leave Facebook? I doubt it. For many people Facebook does everything they need. It is enough for them. I have never been a huge Facebook fan. The interface sucks, the privacy settings are a mess and too many people post every second of their life. Some days, 90% of the posts on the page are one person. Of course you don’t have to follow the person, but all or nothing just does not seem like the best solution. Tools like Groups help, but there have been issues with Facebook Groups as well.
Google+ seems to have been written from the ground up to deal with many of the weak areas in Facebook, and the group design is fantastic. G+ lets you put groups of people into Circles. When posting, you choose which Circles see the post. You can post to a person, a Circle, or all your Circles. You can even control Extended Circles. This lets you control if someone in your Circle can re-post to their Circles. And the people in your Circles don’t know what Circle they are in.
Hangouts are the big “gotta be on G+” feature. Start a random chat, including video. You and up to 9 friends video chatting on the fly. Very cool. If you login and see a friend is “Hanging out”, you just join in and video chat with them. Text chats in Hangouts are off the record, meaning they are not stored in your chat history.
For photographers G+ has some great photo sharing features. It blows away any photo features on Facebook. It’s an interface that could even hurt Flickr.
Google+ is a web app, but it is also available as a native Android app in the Android Market. It has a 4.5 stars from 31,822 ratings.
There is no native iPhone app yet, although I hear it has been submitted to Apple’s App Store. Until then there is a mobile browser based version – that is choppy but works.