Any of you who read this site on a regular basis know that I am no fan of Facebook, I use it because it gives an easy way of keeping it touch with people and as a website owner it’s a massive group of possible readers. I have major issues with the way Facebook handles privacy as well, I just think they take too nonchalant of an approach to sharing our data when we don’t want them to. On the other hand, I have issues with Google too but not in the same vein. My issue with Google comes from their complete failure to deliver any kind of viable social service until now. Google has quite honestly miserably failed on the social front with things like Google Wave and Google Buzz which I don’t still don’t think anyone knows what to do with. For all their money and talent, social is a space that until recently that have missed miserably. But you know what they say if first you don’t succeed…
Google+ is by far the first serious contender to Facebook that I can ever recall as MySpace was on the decline as Facebook started to become really popular. Google+ does so many things right and at least for now is almost the anti-Facebook. The concept of “circles” is brilliant, letting you easily group your friends and acquaintances into neat little communication channels. If you are on your main stream window and post something then by default it will be “Public” but if you drop down and select one of your circles and post something then it will go to just the folks in that stream. People can be in more than one group and since you will probably add folks to a particular group when you first add them it becomes very easy to keep it organized.
Google+ goes a long way to keep everything organized and streamlined. You get notifications of when something happens via an icon in the top right of your window. When you click the button you can see a list of all your previous notifications, which you can then dig down into to read the stream and if it’s a conversation you were having you, can even reply right from the notifications drop down. There is no need to go to another page to respond if you don’t want to. Once your logged into Google+, you will be alerted via the toolbar no matter what Google app you’re in and will have the same functionality to respond that you would have in Google+. At first I thought Google+ had first a major flaw but then I realized they just took a different approach and it takes a while to get used to but it works flawlessly.
At first glance, it appears that Google+ doesn’t have direct messaging, meaning you can’t hit up a single person privately to share some info. In Google+, you would just directly address a communication to that person and they would be the only person that could see it and thus you have direct messaging. Now the one downside to it is if you didn’t want to have a separate “circle” for everyone you wanted to private message then all of your communication would appear in “your” stream. Since there is no separate area or window, depending on what you are discussing anyone could potentially walk by and see it on the screen which I admit could be an issue. Honestly I could see it going either way and if they had to I don’t think Google would have a problem implementing a more traditional messaging feature.
For now at least, Google+ has no ads and there aren’t tons of notifications letting me know what weapon my friend just got on “Mafia Wars”. I have seen some places people have written that only techies or geeks will really like it but I beg to differ. If Google+ keeps it simple and streamlined the way it is now and continues to tightly integrate Google’s other core services I think it could really be relevant. I have also read reports that Facebook isn’t worried about Google+ and if those are true they are both naïve and stupid. With Google+, Google has finally “gotten” it and if they don’t over complicate things Google+ will be a more than compelling alternative to Facebook.
P.S. If you still haven’t gotten into Google+, follow us on Facebook and Twitter and then come back and comment on this post and we will shoot out invites to the first 50 people that comment and let us know who they are on either Facebook or Twitter.