Google+ is the new social network launched by Google. Despite having a track record of broken dreams and train wrecks in the social space, Google has actually managed to put together a quite compelling product. A lot of the tech industry is claiming it really is a Facebook killer.
Here's why it's not
Google+ is basically a clone of Facebook. So much of the service is nearly identical that it would be silly to claim otherwise. Now this might be because Google is lazy, or it might be that Facebook has found a good way to view social information. I'm more inclined to the latter.
But similarity won't get new users, they'll understand Google+ easier (an important argument) but they won't stay for that. So what stands out?
Circles, Sparks, Huddles and Hangouts
Circles are central to the Google+ experience. To share or follow anyone you have to assign them to a circle or group. The idea is that if all your friends are in groups from the start, having more control of what you share to whom is a lot simpler.
That's a great idea. Sadly it's really annoying and adds work for the users. Every time you post something you have to choose which circles to share with. The ones you shared with last are offered as a default. I'll bet that most people will add most if not all their circles and then never change. The reason for this is that we don't share if sharing is to much work. That's why social networking took off in the first place, they made it easier to share stuff we liked. Google+ is making it harder than on Facebook. Not a compelling argument for most people.
Sparks are topics of interest that you can follow and get all the new information on right inside Google+. This is a great idea. Having content in the social network, ready to be shared.
There is a problem. It's basically just a Google search. So there's very little filtration of content and hardly ever anything new. Google+ is still a beta so this could evolve to a killer feature. But for Google to invent a new type of search just for content in Google+... I don't think that'll happen.
Huddles are group messaging. Yeah. Another one... And for some reason it only works on mobile devices, they don't show up in the web interface. So basically a bit less useable than Facebook chat.
Hangouts are amazing. Hangouts are video chatroom that you can start at any time and than jump in and out of and just talk to people. Amazing tech.
But a stupid idea. Why? I don't understand why companies keep dragging the video-calling, video-chatting ideas out every time they get more tech. The trend in general is moving from voice to text because it is less intrusive.
Intrusive is basically the definition of having friends looking at you while you work.
"But chat roulette was a hit!?" I hear you desperately cry. Yes it was. Because it's for fun it was quick to just spend a half hour jumping in and out of conversations or charades with
dicks random people. But do you want to do that with just your friends? Probably not.
It is however an even simpler way to have video conferencing, which inside Google must seem like the thing everyone wants to do. I've never met someone who would like that. But I'm sure those people will be thrilled. I'll use it to have drinking nights with my buddies in the UK no doubt.
So far Google+ looks like a great, clean, new social network. With absolutely nothing to make it more useable than Facebook.
The only reason people loves this product is because it says Google right there on the logo.
But we should give it the benefit of a doubt, it's still just a beta, it might be missing features or showing us features that are far from finished.
Don't get me wrong, I'll still be on it. It's just that I don't use it at all.