We take a look at Google+
Well, for a feature that was meant to roll out quietly; it’s made a pretty noisy entrance. Yes, if you haven’t already heard about it, Google+ has been unveiled. And whether it takes off or falls flat, the initial interest has been quite astounding.
Google+ began to roll out to select users on Tuesday, and has become the latest ‘must-try’ feature. Another attempt by the search giant to tap into the social market; Google+ focuses on making online sharing more like real-life interaction. So, what can you expect to find on Google+?
This feature seeks to compete with Facebook’s tricky method of creating groups, and allows users to select and organise contacts, allowing for ideal sharing.
You choose the members of the Circle from your Gmail contacts, simply dragging and dropping your friends or family into the Circle. From the new black toolbar at the top of Google’s homepage, you can easily share web content within these Circles.
Perhaps the key feature of Google+, Circles is an easy way of sharing links, videos, or locations with a specific group of friends. I believe this is a clever way to battle that frustrating Facebook issue of wanting to share a status or location; but not wanting certain people to see it. Whether it’ll gain the element of ‘obsession’ that Facebook feeds and Twitter timelines possess is yet to be seen.
Google’s new Instant Upload focuses on making it easier to quickly store and share photos from your mobile. So, with Instant Upload activated every time you take a photo on your phone, they’ll be immediately stored in an online album, which can be shared with people in your Circles.
Only available on Android devices for the time-being; Instant Upload is a feature which is sure to contend with the Facebook app’s photo upload tool, which is often so slow and time-consuming, that I tend to give up, and when the photo has eventually uploaded, I’m somewhere else.
Sparks allows you to enter any interest you have into a search box and Google will find elements from across the web which will link to this interest, whether it’s a blog post, a book, or a video.
If any of these are something you like, you can click on it to add it to your ‘interest list’. These interests will be publicly visible, and you can talk about them in the ‘featured interests’ area.
This seems a fairly vague application which isn’t really necessary unless you’re interested in talking to people you’ve never met about a particular interest; and there’s really no point telling people within your Circles what you’re interests are, as you know them well enough anyway.
An extension of Circles; Huddle is essentially a group messaging app which works across Android and iPhone allowing you to send a message to certain Circles all at once. Personally, using a Facebook thread to send a message to all my friends at once works perfectly well, and unless all my friends suddenly relocate to Google+, there’s no new incentive to use Huddle instead.
According to the Vice President of Social at Google; it’s “socially awkward” to video chat with someone because being online doesn’t necessarily mean you want to chat, and so Google+ attempts to solve this ‘problem’ by making it easy for you to let others know that you’re interested in chatting.
Whilst in these ‘Hangouts’, within a Circle you can share a piece of content, such as a YouTube video, and watch and discuss it together. Although this is a clever way of enhancing the video chatting experience with friends, the whole concept that Google has created for ‘Hangouts’ is verging on cringe worthy, starting with the name…
There’s no denying that this a pretty solid effort from the Google Social team to crack the market with a simple-to-use and well-designed interface; but with three failed attempts, why are Google so keen to try again?
The try-hard effort almost makes it unappealing; nobody wants to use a service or a product which is being forced upon them, so no matter how good the application is; the demand to use it just isn’t there.
As Google+ invites were flying around the office yesterday, some of us got to grips with the new application and tried it out.
Our Senior Software Developer, Jules, doesn’t think it’ll be 4th time lucky for Google: “I’ve already got a Facebook profile for my friends, and a Twitter account to follow interesting people, so I don’t see what Google+ could offer me, or where the niche in the market is.
“Google+ is actually very well made, it’s modern and it’s nice to use, but I still don’t think there is the appeal to move away from Facebook or Twitter to use it.”
Whilst some of us have already made up our minds; others – myself included – are keen to wait and see how Google+ pans out; will the excitement and eagerness surrounding its launch reveal that there actually is a demand for something other than Facebook or Twitter? Or will the strong – and desperate – effort of Google+ soon be topping the failed attempt pile, along with Orkut, Wave, and Buzz (names of Google’s previous social media attempts, not Disney characters…).
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