Despite failed attempts by Google to rival Facebook in the social networking arena, the search engine heavyweight has bounced back with what it believes is a new improved adaptation of what social networking should be like.
Google+ has been built on exploiting what it deems as Facebook’s major weakness, the fact that all of a user’s information is shared with one’s large group of ‘friends’. The main idea behind Google+ is to allow users the ability to ‘share the right things with only the right people’. Note: Facebook does have a ‘Groups’ function, but Google+’s ‘Circles’ is designed to be much easier to set-up and use.
Once logged into a Google account, be it Google+ or Gmail, there is a whole Google styled experience right at your fingertips. You can share exactly what you like with the people you want to share it with, whether it be a Google Search result, Google Map, YouTube video, or your own status update.
Google+ features its own forms of your ‘Profile’, ‘Privacy’ and ‘Sharing’ functions, tied together into a real time ‘Stream’ similar to what you find on Facebook. However, it also boasts extra features that it believes builds on a traditional ‘Facebook’ offering:
- Search Google+ allows you to search any subject, not only people, to find information and opinions from other users in relation to a specific topic. You can also save these searches and come back to them later.
- ‘Circles’ let you share information only with the people you really want to share it with. By creating your own social ‘Circles’ you can now discuss last weekend’s shenanigans with your ‘Close mates’, or the impending reunion with your ‘Family’ without having to worry about censoring your comments.
- ‘Hangouts’ is where you can ‘Hangout’ and video chat face-to-face with up to 10 friends simultaneously.
- Photo uploads can be done instantly via integration with Google Picasa Web. You can then ‘Tag’ photos of friends in your albums.
- Sand Bar is a great time saving feature. When you’re linked to Google+ through your Gmail account or Google Reader, you will be notified of additions to your RSS feed and share updates without needing to open a new window in your browser.
These features are designed to provide an overall improved social experience by integrating all aspects of your online life into one portal. The idea is to emulate what you’d experience in real life.
Google+ promises to give Facebook a run for its money, and provided you are, or intend to become a regular Google user, the only thing left to do is convince all your Facebook ‘Friends’ to change sides!
By Chen Tan, Vive Group