Ok to begin with I think the experience will improve once I have more than one other person in my circles (maybe I just need more friends 🙁 ).
Overall I really like the feel of the interface it’s very clean and currently shows no advertising, although I suspect that will change in time as it is Google’s core revenue stream.
There are 4 main top level areas Stream (Home), Photos (and Videos), Me (Profile) and Circles.
- Stream is similar to the main Facebook’s news feed displaying a chronological list of events/posts with additional features around the borders, looks and feels like Facebook which is good for new users as they will immediately feel at home here.
- Photos has four categories Circles, Phone, You and Your Albums. The circles I will touch on later, phone gives the option for Android phone users to instantly upload photos and video to Google+ presumably this will also work with tablets but the current Android app crashes on my tablet (Herotab C8). There is also an iPhone app in development but the rest of us are stuck with a very average mobile interface (hey Microsoft why not integrate this along with Twitter in the WP7 Mango update, hoping but not likely 🙁 ). Photos of you is fairly self explanitory but will presumeably show photos others have uploaded and tagged, uploading is very simple and the web interface recognises faces and gives the option to tag (take note Facebook the option to). As expected you can simly create and manage albums and also included is integration with PicassaWeb if you already have an account or want to add one. The nice thing is it is always obvious who can and cannot see your posts and equally easy to change at any time.
- Me is your Profile it displays Posts, Photos, your details, Videos, +1 (Google search ranking feature), and Buzz (for anyone who ever bothered to use it, no one I know but that may change now). Any and each piece of information you provide about youself can be secured and will only be shown to a selected audience, again take note Facebook.
- Ok now the game changer for me Circles, this is the key to Google+’s advantage over existing Social Media networks (ok Facebook). Circles enables you to create groups of individuals that you can then expose information, photos etc to. The beauty is the simplicity of organising the ‘Circles’ even a non technical person will be familiar with it in a couple of minutes. From intitial experience each circle can have any number of members (friends) and a member can be associated with any number of circles. This makes it easy to organise obvious categories of friends, colleagues and family, once the circles have been set up posts, uploaded photos etc can be associated with any number of these circles. This should solve the problem of being sacked for posting how bad your hangover is after calling in sick for work then remembering your boss is a Facebook friend :).
Well that covers the basics, I think the key to Google+’s success is getting this across all mobile platforms as soon as possible a majority of posts are now done from a mobile platform rather than a desktop browser. I expect to see adverts real soon but hope Google focuses more on extending functionality by incorporating other google platforms such as Places, Maps etc and mimics the checkin facility much used in Facebook. Currently there does not seem to be a gaming platform similar to all the incidious viral Zynga games found in Facebook (which is a plus for me as I don’t care if you need Gold, a Shovel or someone to water your crops) and this for some may be a deal breaker.
If you know someone with an account get them to send you an invite, there doesn’t seem to be a limit, and have a look you just might like it! Currently predicitions are that the user base will reach 20 million this weekend, not bad for a couple of weeks.
The big question is can Google’s circles and security lure enough Facebook users to tip the balance of power, currently the answer has to be no… but with concerns around Facebook privacy and Google ability to react to market demand given some time it could be. Many of us already use Gmail, Google Maps, Places and many other services the more these are integrated into a unified option the more value Google+ will have, just integrate all the [email protected] apps so many Facebook users love and it could be a winner. With Facebook integrating Skype and Google including Hangout (webcam conferencing) and both parties about to lanuch a cloud based music service the competition can only be good whichever party you choose to side with.