Social media is constantly evolving and Google is once again trying to be at the center of this evolution. Their newest project, Google+, has captured the attention of internet users worldwide. Having recently gone public, it is still in its beta phase, and a limited number of people are able to receive invitations. With buzz building, the important question is will Google+, unlike the failed Wave project, live past its hype? The easiest answer to answer this is by looking at the Google+ interface.
My immediate reaction was that it felt like a glorified combination of Facebook and Twitter. You have a stream that functions like a Facebook wall. Your friends are part of circles that you can customize under various categories. If you end up liking a post, Google lets you click a +1 button. You’re able to tag any posts with your location like Twitter.
At first, it didn’t feel like anything new, but the more I used the interface, the more I began seeing things that made Google+ stand out above Facebook or Twitter.
For those who use Gmail, this point is especially relevant. When your Gmail account is opened, you’re automatically linked into Google+. Whenever somebody new follows you, +1’s a post, or comment, the Google+ box flashes in the upper right hand corner, saving you from respond to any of these notifications in a new tab.
Another benefit is the Sparks feature, which allows you to enter certain keywords to use for news searches. Have a favorite athlete you want to follow? You don’t have to worry about opening Google search.
Hangouts, hangouts, hangouts.
Facebook may have launched their video chat in partnership with Skype but the chat feature on Google+ is better. On Facebook you’re only able to chat with one other person, with Google+ you can chat with a group. This could prove to be especially useful for businesses, particularly for those who handle remote clients. Instead of a dreaded conference call, it may be easier and more personal to use the hangout feature.
Customizable privacy settings. Though all Google profiles are going public beginning 8/1, you will continue to have the ability to customize who sees each of your posts and any specific personal information in your profile. While Facebook has this feature, Google+ makes it more user-friendly.
Before posting anything you’re able to easily type in the name of a specific person you’re following, any one of the circles they’re in, or if, for example, you write articles, you can make them public. This is also one advantage over Twitter, which requires you are completely private or public in your profile.
And, finally, editing!
Have you ever had a moment when you typed a message on Facebook or Twitter too quickly, only to realize an error? Google+ has a handy editing button that allows you to correct an error. With you realize it immediately after posting, or later on, there’s no need to copy and repost.
Overall, Google+ shows promise. It has features that streamline the social media experience, make it more interactive and user-friendly to the widest audience. But will it catch on? I believe it can.
If Google can show it’s both a mix of the familiar and innovative, Google+ can and will live past its hype.