Broadway buildings bathed in sunlight and thoughts on Google +. Soho, New York City.
Spent quite a bit of time last night exploring Google +, Google’s new social network. My (not totally set-up) profile is here: My profile on Google + . If you are already on there, feel free to add me to any of your ‘circles’!
I have to say that I am really psyched about it! The interface is super easy to use and I am loving the ‘circles’ feature which I think is miles ahead of Facebook in many regards in terms of usability and privacy.
Basically you are able to add people to categories called ‘circles’. Everyone shows up as just being a part of your ‘circles’ so you don’t have to worry about others getting upset at which ‘circle’ you have put them in. You can also even disable sharing circle info on your profile entirely if you wish.
The ‘circle’ categories are customizable and there are also pre-set ‘circles’. The pre-set ‘circles’ are ‘Friends’, ‘Acquaintances’, ‘Family’ and ‘Following’. The ‘Friends’ circle allows you to post only to the people you feel closest to and are comfortable sharing certain things with. The ‘Acquaintances’ circle allows you to post to people you have met but ‘aren’t particularly close to’. The ‘Family’ circle is for posting or following people you consider your family. Finally, the ‘Following’ circle allows you to follow people you may not know personally at all but find their content interesting enough to read. You can also then create as many different other circles as you wish. The tools for doing this are straightforward (drag and drop!) making it easy to put the people you know or are interested in into the correct categories. You don’t have to worry about adding your mother or that person you worked with 2 years ago or someone from school you aren’t close to. By using the ‘circles’ function and putting everyone in the best ‘circle’ you can share what you want with who you want at any time.
While Facebook has allowed you to do almost the same thing with their ‘Lists’ function, the settings to do so are relatively buried and not highly intuitive. This is where I think Google + excels in that right off the bat, the way to control how you share is easy and simple to do as it is a major part of their interface. The drag and drop controls are also a pleasure to use.
You can also control visibility of what you share in each post you make as well as edit your statuses and posts once they are made (!) which is awesome (considering that I have never understood why editing of a status on Facebook never seemed to make it to the Facebook interface). The only thing I have found to be mildly annoying so far has been dealing with photos primarily because I want(ed) to upload a small portion of my photos on Flickr to my Google + account. Picasa, which belongs to Google is the photo hosting service for Google + and so I have been spending some time uploading what I need to my Picasa account using a workaround. It’s mainly a sticky point for me since I have quite a bit of photos I want to share on Google +. I am not so sure that this would be a huge issue for others :).
In general though, I am happy with what I see so far. I can’t wait until more people are on Google + and until Google + adds their business ‘pages’ function later this year. I did want to make a photo page there like the one I have on Facebook here: NY Through The Lens on Facebook. However, they are discouraging people from making these types of pages and any non-user pages will be disabled when the actual ‘business pages’ function rolls out. This video which describes the future functionality for those pages sounds great: Google to Businesses: Don’t Create Google + Profiles Yet.
We will see how all of this plays out. I see Google + as being a good step forward in terms of privacy and ease of use for a social network but I am sure that Facebook will end up rolling out new features on par (or better) with Google +. Either way, this is a possible game-changer.