It’s the latest and greatest from Google: a social network that people are actually caring about. Already about to surpass ten million members, which is a long way from Facebook’s three-quarters of a billion active users, but you gotta start somewhere, right? Inside, the staff present their opinions on Google+.
I think the guys over at This Is My Next have the right idea: is Google+ a standalone product or, in a zero sum game, must Facebook lose in order for this to succeed? If you’re a regular Facebook user, like so many others, how comfortable are you with a new network that works so hard to mimic it, but with none of your friends on it, and a sparse layout that hints at its lack of content? Google’s had seven years to learn my e-mail contacts, so they were the first to go on my friends list. Unfortunately, many weren’t actually tied to Google accounts so they didn’t have names. Many were people I hadn’t talked to in years. Sifting through the garbage wasn’t much fun.
It’s not all bad news: you can assign friends to ‘circles’ which are the equivalent of Facebook’s groups, by simply dragging their profile across the screen. It’s intuitive when you have a small number of ricles, but as soon as your circles dominate more real estate, having to scroll through rows of these circles to assign people is a pain compared to Facebook’s drop down menus. Your activities/posts/whatever are also available to the entire world by default, but you can limit who your content goes to. If you have the disappointingly limited mobile app, you’re also able to atuomatically upload photos to a private folder on Google+ as soon as they’re taken.
All in all, it feels like the World of Warcraft argument: if you’re trying to compete with the giant, you simply can’t win by mimicking the superior service with a few twists. Look at how many MMOs have failed in the past seven years by simply trying to copy Blizzard’s giant, but their small audiences and lack of content mean they can never get off the ground. I’m just not interested in sending all my links, posts, and photos to yet another location when I’m trying to consolidate them. The argument that this network will take off just because it’s tied to virtually every internet search is a fallacy: Zune wasn’t stalled because Windows is so popular, AppleTV floats in the wind despite their success in iOS. Google+ needs a lot more, different ideas if they’re going to get by.
Well, I have to be honest and say that I haven’t used Google+ very much, so far – not because I haven’t had time but because it’s just really clunky and, dare I say, scattered.
It feels to me like Google has tried to take a messenger program, facebook, twitter and skype and mash them all together and instead of coming out smooth and pretty like a finely iced birthday cake, it just came out lumpy and bitter like a hangover shit in a 5 gallon bucket.
The circles thing is a joke. It will attempt to import people from your gmail address book so you can add them to your circle but, at least in my case, it dumped tons of duplicates on the screen as well as email addresses from businesses like Geico and Safeway so the whole thing is a jumbled mass of crap that I really don’t want to have to sift through to find my actual friends and family so I can drag them to the “circles”. It’s really just fucking tedious and it’s starting to chap my ass a bit.
Now lets talk about this “hangout” thing. It’s a good concept – hell it’s a GREAT concept – but I’m not sure how much real functionality it’s going to have. On top of that, the invitation system is complete crap. I had to tell it to invite the other guys from FEZ on 3 different screens before it FINALLY (allegedly) invited them to hang with me and even then I’m not sure it actually ever sent an invitation to anyone…it just said it did. Meh.
So what’s my bottom line? I’ll tell you. I am in near 100% agreement with Nick. Google+ feels like a mashup and I can’t see that Google is doing anything different than everyone else…they’re just doing it in a really clunky, really tedious, really disorganized way. That being said, I am VERY cautiously optimistic. I want Google+ to succeed because A) Someone needs to pull Facebook off the pedestal and put it in its place and B) I see the possibility for this technology being a launching platform for some really good things. Google just has a LOT of work to do.
Well, I don’t have much to say on the subject. I’ve only used it when I need to brag to those who haven’t been invited yet. Other than that, most features play almost identical to Facebook — granted it doesn’t have all those stupid groups I’m already a member of. One thing that bugs the hell out of me is not being able to post on someone’s “wall”. I have to initiate a “chat” when all I want to do is post a small quip and dip out. But perhaps that’s just me being anti-social.
Google and facebook have more in common than just a feature or two. They both believe that less is more when it comes to design. Where facebook dominates and Google lacks, however, is style. I can’t remember a time when I though, “Wow, Google _____ looks so cool!” I guess the best way to compare the two would to call facebook the Apple of social media and Google+ the Google of social media. Wah, wah.
I guess it’s my time to chime in. I’ve tried to use Google+, tried so hard but it’s so much like Facebook that I’m like, why not go to Facebook? I update my statuses on Twitter which then posts to my Facebook wall (and even MySpace, yes that account still exists), I have different people on both so it’s cool bro, and that’s how I let everyone know what’s up in my life. I log into Facebook to comment and like posts. See, the liking of posts makes complete sense to me, +1-ing doesn’t. I see where they were coming from, you see that on comments and forums people just put “+1” but the thing is they introduced that before Google+ came out and didn’t tell people what it really does so I just got confused.
I don’t use my email as my contact list, hell I don’t use Gmail as my primary email, so when Google was recommending users for me to add to circles that I have only emailed once 3 years ago I was a little turned off. I use Facebook as my contact list, if I need someones email address or phone number I pop over to Facebook, punch their name in and look at their profile and it’s usually there. If not I will shoot them a quick message.
The biggest thing I see is that Google is a couple of years late to the game just to be a copycat, every site out there is integrated into Facebook somehow, whether it’s logging users in, creating accounts or letting them share whatever they find.
We already have one Facebook we don’t need another…