Modern Software Experience

2011-07-10

Google+ Logo

Double-Plus Good

invite-only

Google+ is a new social network, introduced on 2011 June 28. Google+ is not generally available yet, it still is in an invite-only public beta phase. However, with everyone who is invited in having 500 invites to share in turn, Google+ invites are easy to score, and the number of users is growing fast.

different but similar

Google+ is different from but similar to FaceBook, Twitter and Google Wave. If you used any of these services, Google+ will feel quite familiar.

FaceBook is obviously superior to Google+, because FaceBook has FarmVille…

Google+ is different from but similar to FaceBook.
Google+ feels like FaceBook without the games. FaceBook is obviously superior to Google+, because FaceBook has FarmVille…
Google+ allows you to post updates, links and photos, and videos, and comment on posts by others. A small thing, but a big plus (pun intended) is that you can edit posts to correct typos.

Google+ is different from but similar to Twitter. Google+ is like Twitter; you can post updates, follow others and be followed.

Google+ is even somewhat similar yet quite different from Google Wave. Google+ takes a considerably less revolutionary approach than Google Wave did. You can email and collaborate on documents, but it isn't a single new system that aims to replace your current mail; Google+ does not even integrate Google Mail or Google Docs. Google+ merely takes advantage of the fact that you already have Google Mail and Google Docs.

Orkut Logo

consolidate

Google+ isn't Google first attempt at a social network.
Google Wave was a collaborative editing platform that aimed to replace both email and bulletin boards.
Google Buzz is their microblogging service that mostly fails to compete with Twitter.
Orkut is a social networking site Google has operated since 2004, but has hardly been noticed outside of Brazil.

Google Buzz Logo

Google is aware that competing with FaceBook is an uphill battle, but the introduction of Google+ is more than just another attempt to compete with FaceBook. Google+ seems to be new platform, inspired by Google Wave, that brings together Google Profiles with the best of Google Orkut and Google Buzz, to make us forget Google Wave and to replace Orkut and Buzz.

Google+ is Google Profiles, Orkut and Buzz on steroids. It is reasonable to expect Google to phase out these older, separate services, and focus on Google+ as the single replacement for all of them.

appeal

xkcd: Google+

Although few of us are eager to adopt, let alone switch to yet another social network, Google+ is certainly doing a few things right.

Google+ is FaceBook without its many privacy-violating changes and deliberately complex privacy controls.
Google+ may seem like FaceBook without the games, but that is likely to be a temporary state of affairs; Google+ needs the many social games FaceBook has to really compete with it.
Google+ still is FaceBook with the advertisements, but that state of affairs is not likely to last long either.
The xkcd comic introducing Google+ brilliantly sums up how many of us feel about FaceBook; we want FaceBook, but are fed up with FaceBook.

Google+ should really be called Google Synergy; Google+ brings all existing Google services together in a single umbrella service that is more than the sum of its constituent parts.

Google+ is twitter without the 140-character limit, and with truly threaded conversations.

Google Wave wanted to replace mail and document services you were already familiar with. Google+ does not want to replace Google Mail or Google Docs. Google+ integrates other Google services, and merely aims to replace the competion.
Google+ should really be called Google Synergy; Google+ brings all existing Google services together in a single umbrella service that is more than the sum of its constituent parts.

Data Liberation Logo

not FaceBook

Google understands why we love to hate FaceBook. They know what the common complaints about FaceBook are, and build on that understanding to create a compelling competing service.
Google+ is easier to use. Google+ features privacy controls you can understand without having to take a one-week postgraduate course to do so. Perhaps the most important difference, certainly the most compelling difference is that while FaceBook makes it hard for you to get your own data out, Google offers Google Takeout as part of its Data Liberation initiative; Google Takeout lets you download your data from various Google services, including Google+.

Google's vision for the web; when you are not using one Google web service, you are using another.

vision

Google+ reflects Google's vision for the web; when you are not using one Google web service, you are using another. It is a vision in which web services, their web services, have replaced your desktop computer. You'll only need a tablet running Android or Chrome OS, so you can start your Google Chrome browser to access your data in the Google Cloud through Google services such as Google Mail, Google Blogs (formerly Blogger), Google Photos (formerly Picasa), and Google Docs. You'll be doing all that, while keeping in contacts with friends and colleagues through your Google+ home page.

Google is all you need. The rest of the web is allowed to exist by Google's good grace.

You don't need a desktop platform, you only need the web. Google is all you need. The rest of the web is allowed to exist by Google's good grace. The rest of the web exists so you don't feel owned or boxed in, and so Google still has some third party sites to link to and display Google AdWords on. The rest of the web exists so you can continue to delude yourself by thinking of Google as a search engine company, instead of as a web services company that is out to either own or control all your corporate and private data - including your searches.

circles

Much has been said about Google+' circles feature; you place your friends and acquaintances in circles, but there is nothing special about it. It is just like FaceBook's Friends List feature; you can place your contacts into groups, they're just called circles now. FaceBook allows you to place a contact into multiple Friends Lists, Google+ allows you to place a contact into multiple circles.

Circles is Friends Lists with a catchier name, and a better user interface.

Circles is Friends Lists with a catchier name and a better user interface. Circles is a smart name, as it fits in well with existing expressions such as a circle of friends, and its visual drag & drop interface makes it a lot easier to use than FaceBook friend lists.

What's most interesting about circles is that Google has announced that it is planning to integrate the circles feature into other Google services. The Google+ app for Android and iOS already comes with Huddle, a messaging app that allows you to send messages to your circles.
Huddle is group messaging made easy, very easy.

more features

Your Google+ home page is much like that of FaceBook or Twitter; it is a stream of posts from the people you follow. One of the features that Google promotes Google+ with is Hangouts, which allows ad-hoc video group chat for a small group of people. The Google+ for Android App has an Instant Upload feature, which uploads photos and video you make with your Android device to a private album; you decide later what to share with whom, or rather, which Google+ circles.

The Sparks feature is a click-the-pictures search front-end. It initially gives the impression of being in the way, but it is merely showing some general featured interests because you have not created your own yet. The simple trick to making the Sparks feature useful is creating your own Sparks, which is just another term for saved searches.
For example, when you search for genealogy, you can opt to save that search as a Spark, and from then on, search for genealogy again by clicking that Spark.
The results from a Spark search are certainly not the same as the those from a general Google search, but seem quite similar to Google Blog search; the results are recent blog posts associated with your topic.

Google's +1 button is as much a Google+ feature as FaceBook's Like button is a FaceBook feature.

Google +1

Google +1 Icon

Google+ prominently features the recently introduced Google +1 button, and it is obvious that everyone who compared Google+ to FaceBook and the Google +1 button to FaceBook's Like button is right; the Google +1 button is used in just the same way within Google+ as FaceBook uses the Like button within FaceBook.

FaceBook lacks a dislike button, Google+ lacks a -1 minus button.

Google's +1 button is as much a Google+ feature as FaceBook's Like button is a FaceBook feature. Google's early release of the Google +1 button was just a way to build early buzz for Google Plus.
FaceBook lacks a dislike button, Google+ lacks a -1 minus button. FaceBook wants you to integrate their Like button into your website, Google wants you to integrate their +1 button into your website.

Google+ is the social platform where Google's services come together.

come together, right now

Google+ not only seems an integration of and replacement for Google Profiles, Orkut and Buzz, it also makes it easy to integrate images from Google Photos (formerly Picasa), share posts you found in Google Reader, etcetera; Google+ is the social platform where Google's services come together.
I don't expect it to happen overnight, but would not be surprised to see Blogger's commenting system replaced with the one in Google+, making Google+ central to the Google Blogger experience.

All Google services feature a black navigation bar along the top now.

black navigation bar

A change introduced before Google+ itself is Google black navigation bar. All Google services feature a black navigation bar along the top now. If you haven not seen the black bar yet, or are not seeing for a particular Google service, then that's because you are not logged into it. The black bar only shows when you are logged in. The black navigation bar is more than just a Google navigation bar, it is a feature of Google+.

When I started to explore Google+, I briefly wondered whether I needed to pin the Google+ tab in Firefox Google Chrome, to keep the site open and make it easy to find. Google's black navigation bar obviates the need to do so; wherever you are on Google property, there it is. It a bit like having the Google Toolbar integrated into each Google web site.

The black navigation bar ties all Google services together and makes it very easy to switch between them. You do not even have to keep bookmarks anymore. You can find any Google service from any other Google service. Not every Google service is important enough to have its own top-level menu on the navigation bar, some merely have a menu item on the more menu, but all major Google services are just one click away from any other Google service. That is a convenience to you, and good marketing by Google; why bother opening your Flickr bookmark when Google Photos is just one click away?

Google wants Google+ to be the centre of your web experience.

centre of the web

Google's black navigation bar is a not-so subtle hint on where to go and what to use.
Google wants you to know that it has everything you need, and there is little doubt what it considers most important; your Google+ profile is the first menu item, in the top left corner.
And oh, whenever you are on Google Search, Google Maps or any Google service, the black bar will show notifications to alert you to happenings on Google+ (someone just +1'd your link to this article), to draw you back to your Google+ home page. Google wants Google+ to be the centre of your web experience.

Google Plus is Double-Plus Good.

Haven't received an invite yet?
Shoot me an email…

Google Plus is Double-Plus Good.

updates

2011-07-13: Google+ growth

Number of People on Google+ looks at how many users Google+ has already.

2011-07-22: Google+ commenting for blogs

Google product manager Brad Abrams is now asking input on the idea to use the Google+ commenting system for blogs.

links

Google+

Google Chrome

Google Chrome OS

Google Wave

Google Wave Developer Preview

Google Wave Preview

Google Wave Genealogy