Google is in the process of “Soft Launching” a project they are calling Google+ this week. They are careful not to call it a product release yet since I don’t think they want that kind of intense review of the offering yet. It has been selectively released and they are already overwhelmed with the amount of participants so they have closed off any new users for the moment. In recent years Google has launched Google Wave and Google Buzz in an attempt to enter the Social space in a big way. Both launches have not put a dent into the Facebook empire. I participated early in the Google Buzz release and have been using it but it is by no means a Facebook killer. I will start to use Google + as soon as I have access as well and my expectations are that they took all of the learning from the Google Buzz and Wave releases and have made a much more advanced next step into competing with Facebook with this new release. If you have Google + access please invite me as a freind so that I can get a more indepth view 🙂
One of the interesting approaches that Google+ is taking is the use of what they are calling Circles for invited groups of friends, family, co-workers or group associations etc.. Circles allows for you to have more targeted and contextual discussions and/or communications with smaller more focused groups of people rather than broadcasting to everyone.
Here is the official Google Video about the release:
Since I have not used it yet, below is a summary of first impressions from Ben Parr, the Editor-at-Large of Mashable, as well as a tech entrepreneur, sci-fi author, and aspiring world changer. For the full review click on the Link to Ben’s article below:
Ben Parr Google + Summary:
- Design: Aesthetically, it’s all Google — minimalist with plenty of white space. Nobody is going to complain about the design, but nobody is going to cheer about it, either.
- Usability: Google+ isn’t overwhelmed by its many features. It’s easy to navigate and its icons speak for themselves. After a few minutes of exploring, I quickly got the hang of it.
- Google+ Stream: The core of Google+ is the Stream, which doesn’t bring anything new to the table. It’s a lot like Google Buzz or the Facebook News Feed.
- Google+ Circles: Circles is well-implemented. It’s far easier than creating a Twitter List or a Facebook Friend List. The drag-and-drop functionality is a welcome addition, and the cute animations that appear when you perform actions give the product personality. That doesn’t necessarily mean users will take the time to create friend groups.
- Google+ Profiles: Google+ Profiles essentially port the existing data on your Google Profile. There’s nothing particularly special about Google+ Profiles, yet. One of the nice things is that it includes a Tabs feature, where users can add content from their Google Buzz or their Google +1s. This feature already exists on Google Profiles, but we bet developers will be able to add tabs to Google Profiles in the future, customizing and personalizing profiles.
- Google+ Hangouts: Hangouts is one of the more innovative concepts of Google+, and we think it’s a cool approach to getting users to accept group video chat. The camera switching feature (it changes who’s on camera based on who’s talking) is far superior to having multiple video feeds open at the same time. That said, it will require users checking their Google+ streams every day for potential chats to join. If Google+ gains traction, Hangouts will be a killer feature.
- Google+ Sparks: Sparks may end up being Google+’s most underrated feature. The company has essentially created a recommendation engine without calling it one. It’s designed to augment Google+, and if it works as Google designed it, it will create winners and losers in the publishing world, making Google +1 buttons actually matter. Before that becomes a reality though, it needs traction and it should consider acquiring advanced content recommendation technology from a company like Trapit or my6sense.
- Google+ Photos: The photo editor is essentially Facebook photos but with a photo editor. It’s quick and well-organized, making it a welcome addition to Google+. It should take a cue from Instagram and create simple ways to make photos more “artistic” and personalized.
- Mobile: The mobile version of Google+ is really simple, which is fine for a first release. It only has two unique features: instant photo uploads and Google+ Huddle. Instant photo uploads is a cool idea, but we worry about auto-uploading all of our photos for privacy reasons. We can see some users not being happy about auto-uploads, even if the albums they’re uploaded to are private. This could potentially create a lot of “garbage.”
- Google+ Huddle: Huddle is basically a group-texting feature for the Circles you create. It makes sense as a product, but it isn’t terribly exciting. I’m going to stick with GroupMe for now.
I will provide more information as I get a closer first hand review. Google is determined to get a share of the Social space and I am certain that they will continue to innovate. Let us know what you think of Google+ .
Post: Warren Raisch June 30, 2011