Talking about Google's services is always exciting. Especially this one, has been a long time coming after enough speculation and anticipation for the answer to Facebook's growing dominance. After its few failed attempts at Social networking They have finally come up with something seemingly more substantial, the Google+ project. They declare it as “Real-life sharing, rethought for the web”. So the question is, will it deliver? Will it bring a shift in the existing paradigm of sharing?
Lets explore the wonders that The Google+ project sets out to portray:
A splendid Interface
Google+ interface is quite simply brilliant, the first thing that came to my mind was, this is what Google is all about, fantastic execution of HTML5! Creating something for everyone with its very user friendly navigation panel, to its simplistic categorization of its features and not to mention the engaging content. Which made me question, if this is what it is like at its nascent stages, imagine what it will be like when it will come to its full glory, speechless! The interface speaks class, all thanks to them not going overboard with graphics. And talk about the colors that are used? They have still maintained their eloquence and fondness by opting for universally liked by both men and women alike.
It is one of the best culmination of social networking feature of feeding from any Google services, be it the YouTube, Google Groups, Picasa etc. allowing you to bring all your Google activities all under one roof. Talk about sharing whilst being time efficient, exactly what one needs in our contemporary super fast paced lives. Whilst Facebook does allow you to share these activities efficiently too, as a Google fan I am a tad bit biased, so, why don't you be the judge of it?
Features that set Google + apart
Circles: It allows you to customize groups by picking and dropping various people on your friend-list in and out as you desire. Google claims it is “For people you've known forever; & for people you'll meet tomorrow”. What stood out the most for me is that, it allowed privacy of all the content I wished to share, if I didn't want my mother to know who and I was with the day before, all I had to do was take her out of the group. As of now Facebook does allow you to customize your groups but it's not available for each and every of my activity, so to begin with Google has a one up on Facebook already.
Sparks: This feature allows you to create categories by adding things that interest you and share and have discussions about them with people who might find it interesting too. The way that it works is that, it allows you to share your spark with your created 'circles' and once you have done that you can commence having meaningful discussions about your added spark. It also allows you to save it for later reference so if you want to refer to the Spark at a later point you can just save it for later reference. One of the added advantages of your added Spark is that they are completely kept Private, so if you want to keep it a surprise that you are learning Salsa especially to give an exclusive performance for your best friend's birthday he/she does not need to know about it. Also as easy it is to add a Spark it is to remove it too, so fear not, you won't end up with it infinitely. Furthermore, to add to this feature is the ability to add Google's +1 to the topics and content that are most interesting you and also whilst searching for relevant information you can opt to start of with content with the most +1's. All in all this feature is very aptly described by Goggle as “for Nerding out”.
Hangouts: This feature enables its users to carry out video chats with friends. It allows participation when invited or if someone sends you the unique URL to the video chat. Also it allows the participants to interact with only the people in their 'Circle', thus avoiding unwanted interactions with people you do know. Not only that, Google has taken it a step further, it allows its participants to share YouTube videos and whilst the participants are viewing the video, it disables the mic sound to avoid disturbance, however if you wish to voice you opinion you can hit the talk button and choose to do so too or just type in the text-box provided. Not only that, at any given point you can mute the mic or the speaker, thus ensuring people around you do not hear what they were not meant to. What's more is, it is synced with the Chat feature whereby the link to the conversation can be sent directly provided there are less that 25 people invited. In other words “ It does not matter with what you do. It matters who you do it with”.
In addition to these desktop features it is also available on your mobile phones. You can avail all its unique feature such as Huddle, a group chat developed solely for your Android phones. Or, you can enjoy the Instant Upload an image and video oriented feature which claims to “Help to remember what you'd hate to forget”. And if that is not enough why not use the Locations feature which discreetly allows Geo-tagging your activities.
The 4 missing x-factors:
- The user base is on invite-only basis right now. This means that unless you don't already know someone, you are amongst already millions of Facebook users who is deprived of the Google+ services. And an important factor which needs to be considered is, once the initial hype is over less people will want to migrate to the service anyways.
- Furthermore the service is only extended to individuals who are 18+; contemporary teenagers are individuals who are very socially connected, not allowing them to get an account might lead to make them fake their real age, which could pose as an analytical and ethical issues. Or in many cases by the time they get to the age of 18 they will be so used to using facebook and other social networking sites they might disregard Google+ altogether. Thus the chances are, a huge chunk of population will be missing from Google+ in the long run.
- The much hyped feature Hangout, has a few issues namely, it only allows a maximum of 10 participants per Hangout. Also, there is a 90 minute check-in to see how many are active, this could put off people for using it for holding long conversations or conferences because it might affect the flow of the conversation. Additionally, this feature is yet to be developed for the phone.
- Like most Social networking portals generate most of their revenue through advertisements, Google+ on the interface there seems to be no room for it. So one might question, what if at a later stages their users will be bombarded by advertisement which most individuals find quite annoying.
All in all…
Despite these groundbreaking and engaging features lets not get carried away. Like every service Google+ is not immune to failure. While everything looks great on paper the most important factor which to be considered is, will they be able to sway the millions of already existing and growing number of user-base?
Though on an optimistic note, whilst Facebook has the advantage of already having a huge membership which is growing leaps and bounds, it seems like the world of Social Media is no longer going to be the same. With the quality services that Google has developed, I personally feel that, the change is inevitable, this new and enhanced extension to the Google Brand i.e. the Google+ project seems to be the way to go! We as users deserve a change, so hang on tight to receive an invite to the world of enhanced 'rethought' Social world.