So have you heard about the new social networking site that everyone is talking about? It is called Google+ and it is Google’s latest foray into the social networking arena. With failed attempts like Buzz, Waves, and Latitude stacking up like old records, it looks like they’ve come to their senses and made a useful social network. So what is different?
First off, the Stream is your feed for Google+. It is made up of all of your Google+ friends shared posts, kind of like your Facebook feed. You can mute people you don’t want to see, plus you can tweak it so that your Facebook and Twitter feeds are interspersed with your Google+ feed. In addition, you can see nearby feeds from people that you don’t know, which I think is pretty neat since you might meet somebody new or make friends.
The next thing I’ll mention is the sharing. Everyone knows you can post cute pictures or videos or links to websites and share them with people. Problem is, what if you want to share something you find hilarious, but you know your Grandmother might object. She is on Facebook, right? Well Google+ clears this up by making Circles. Circles are like groups in that you can share items with specific circles only. The default circles makes it pretty clear that Google+ is different from Facebook by giving you “Friends” and “Family.” Now you can post pictures of your late night drinking session without having to hear it the next morning from your Mom. You can also share things with the Public, which means everyone can see your posted item.
Your profile is public by default and you cannot make it private. This might throw some people for a loop, so Google lets you choose what content on your profile is shown and not shown through a use preference. That way you can let your resume items shine and keep your political views hidden for only your friends to see. Your Google+ profile is your Google Profile, if you had one setup. If you didn’t then you’ll be asked to make one by providing pictures, favorites, background, jobs, and other useful information people may want to see.
One of my favorite things about Google+ are Hangouts. Hangouts are group video chats, where you can pull your video feed from your webcam on your computer into a chat setting. This lets you chat face to face with your Google+ friends, like Skype, within Google+. The video quality is actually pretty good, although it mainly depends on your video camera’s quality and resolution. Something most people don’t know is that you can also make your Hangout public, meaning anyone can drop in and say hello via video chat. This could be cool, if you’re trying to make friends or even just vet an idea or product to the public. I’ve not done one of these yet, but I hope to soon.
Finally, the equivalent of Facebook’s like is the +1 button that comes up on Google search results and your Google+ stream. This lets you give a point to something and make it rise up in popularity. This is a neat idea, but I’m still not entirely sure how it functions. That doesn’t stop me from +1’ing all my friends posts that I like and the comments on posts I like.
If you are intrigued with Google+ and want to give it a try, drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll give you an invite. I’ve got a couple left for the first few people that hit me up. With the Anonymous attacks on Facebook slowing it down to a crawl, Google+ just may become your new social media. Even if it doesn’t, you should still check out the Hangouts and the Stream. They are good new ideas for a somewhat becoming-stale Facebook world.
Here is an invite!