At the end of June, Google launched its answer to the social media world with Google+ (Plus for short). It’s basically a tool you can use to organize your online contacts. You can upload your pictures and videos to share with friends, join in on a group video chat or just hang out.
Access continues to be by invitation only, so if you’d like an invitation, just email me your gmail address. When I accepted my invitation from a friend, I was able to create my profile, but couldn’t access the application because it was over capacity – some estimates had Plus users at 20 million by July 16th. There’s definitely a lot of curiosity out there.
Here’s my take on each of Plus’ features:
Circles: Circles allow you to organize contacts into groups (similar to Facebook Lists). Other users can view the list of people in your collection of circles, but they can’t see the names of the circles themselves.
- You can view streams of all your Circles or just one; not 2 Circles or 3 Circles. This is a shortcoming that’s being dealt with according to customer support.
- When you share something you can use the @ or + syntax to link to a person (just like Facebook)
- I never really utilized Lists on Facebook (I keep my Facebook Friends limited to my actual Friends) and shared information accordingly. This means I would share different messages on my personal Facebook page versus my LinkedIn page where my Connections are acquaintances or business colleagues. How are you using Circles?
Sparks: Similar to Google Search. Users can search for topics they are interested in and then save the Spark to their profile to peruse whenever they want. Having this search interface within Plus makes sharing with your Circles easy. (similar to Google Reader)
Hangouts: Used for group video chat with a maximum of 10 participating in a single Hangout at a time). Anyone on the web could potentially join the Hangout if they have the unique URL, though. I test drove a Hangout with a Client this week and it went well (I need a microphone!), but we were a little leery about random people joining in. But they can’t do it without us knowing (their face would appear on the screen!), so that helped. (similar to Skype)
Huddle: Group messaging feature available within the Plus mobile app (originally available only for Android and recently made available for the iPhone – search “Google Huddle”). Rather than sending text messages to each person in a Circle, users send Huddle messages to the group. Haven’t played with this yet. Have you? What are your thoughts?
- Not liking the long, numerical unique username? Visit http://gplus.to/ to create your customized Google+ username – I did this very quickly: http://gplus.to/suzannehull.
- With Facebook, you can mute an individual post OR the person/business. With Plus, you can only mute an individual post which could get annoying.
- Plus also lacks the Facebook Event feature which I hope is coming soon.
- Be warned: If you delete a gmail contact from your gmail account, your contact will also be removed from your circles. When adding people to circles they get added to your “other contacts” within gmail. If you delete that contact, that contact is also removed from your circles.
Are you using Plus? What are you excited about? Not so excited about?