Did you get the newest golden ticket?
Thanks to a link from my geek connections, I recently joined Google+, Google’s latest attempt at one-upping Facebook.
Google+ is much more than a social app, though.
Termed a project, Google+ is a layer on top of all Google’s existing products like Gmail and Calendar, designed to allow users more easily share with each other and to make sharing on the web like sharing in real life.
For example, IRL, you wouldn’t tell your mother about that party last night, right?
With Google+, Mom can be a “circle” (not group, that’s Facebook talk) called “Family,” while your fellow party-goers can be in another group called "Party Animals," if that’s what you want to call them. Instead of indiscriminate posting to all or using clunky "groups", as in Facebook, users determine which “circle” to post to with each post.
Also, while in design Google+ looks similar to Facebook, it shares more a resemblance with Twitter and other social media like LinkedIn in terms of how you share with people, allowing users to have followers instead of mutual sharing between friends. Perfect for stalking your favorite celebrities.
Beyond how Google+ allows you to share or not share with people, it’s is also designed to let you share from all of Google’s myriad services – Picasa, calendar, Gmail, web search, etc. – in a central location, allowing you to post right to your “stream” (not Facebook's “status”).
Oh, and a little quirky thing to make it fun? Instead of the infamous “Like” button, people click a “+1” button to show their interest in a post, picture or topic on the web.
I have to admit, I’m already loving Google+, although not with as much glee as my Facebook-hating friends. A recent comment read: “Integration totally wins over Facebook, although they still need invites. Sticking it to Mark Z. is just a sweet fringe benefit.”
Here’s what I love: the photo sharing. No more clunky Facebook interface that takes forever to load a few pictures. Picasa allows a much more streamlined upload and better picture viewing.
There are other benefits. People are raving about the video chat option among friends. I haven’t used it yet but I’m pretty happy about not having to use Windows Live, which always crashed for me.
For people like my brother, who never joined Facebook, joining Google+ was an easy decision. He already used Picasa for sharing pics and is a frequent user of other Google accessories like Google maps and calendar.
Not everyone is sold on Google+, though. Author Neil Gaiman tweeted that he deleted his Google+ profile and was getting unwanted emails. End result: “I hate this.” He has since managed to tame the emails and said that he thinks Google+ is "fine" if you don't have thousands of people trying to put you in circles when you're starting out, as he did. Maybe that's why it's working for me.
Another funny thing? If you’ve missed Tom from MySpace, you can find him on Google+.
But it would take a lot Toms to replace my Facebook friends and real-life connections. So I won't be making a switch anytime soon. Sigh, yet another social stream to follow.
There’s lots of chatter on the web about Google+. Check it out for yourself. Google+ is currently a limited field trial so expect some ambiguity.