Google Plus: Initial Impressions

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It’s been quite an interesting week on the Google front, with the launch of one new service after another. The one making the biggest waves (if you pardon the pun) has been Google+ (plus). Having wrangled an invite, I used it for a couple of hours. These are some first impressions. It shouldn’t be surprising that I’m making lots of comparison to Facebook which is the defacto social networking standard right now. What’s cool:

  1. The hangout feature is the clear differentiator – multi user video conferencing, ability to share media, and VERY COOL is the ability to watch media clips together as a group! It also switches ‘attention’ depending on what’s happening in the conversation, that’s awesome too.
  2. Circles is a great way of organizing and separating feeds; unlike Facebook’s fire-hose in your face approach. Also the group management user interface and experience is far better than anything Facebook offers.
  3. A new profile feature that will probably replace Google’s current profile (I am not sure about this though)
  4. The +1 I figure will eventually end up deep inside Google’s ecosystem and will be included in the page-rank algorithm; it ties very well to their core business of search, a million individuals working with the +1 button might give Google the edge in providing human context to search.
  5. Sparks – the content search mechanism is unlike anything I’ve seen; enter an interest into the box and Google fetches web elements that might be related to the interest. You can create an interest list in this way, adding stuff you like as you go along.
  6. Huddle – this was something I was looking for; finally a group messaging system that works across Android, iPhone, and SMS.
  7. User interface and user experience are unlike any other Google service I’ve used so far – quite simple and intuitive; it is evident Google has spent significant time and money working this out for Plus.

Some questions that came to my mind were:

  1. What about integration with twitter, google reader and other web services?
  2. What about the data, will there be an API in the near future?
  3. How will this evolve, considering Google’s products seem to be in a continuous beta?

Does it compare to Facebook? I’d say yes, will the masses leave Facebook and embrace +(Plus)? That’s hard question to answer at this point, time will tell. Have you tried it? Will this make a better tool for learning than Facebook is? Leave comments please.

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