When I first heard of Google’s new social network project, the first thing that clicked in my head was it has to be better than Facebook.
Facebook is a great tool, but not as fun as it once was. For me, a notable day on Facebook includes clogging up group chats with needless amounts of asteriks and wishing people I have little or no connection to a “happy birthday.” Not to mention countless hours Facebook stalking anyone- usually complete strangers- that somehow find their way into my News Feed. I was craving something with a little more to it, something modern and different. Clearly, with Facebook I was just, bored.
Facebook is a very large network. I wanted to know, what would actually make people want to completely switch to a totally new, and fairly empty one. What would make someone have both? So with that, I did some research and found people were thinking the same thing. People claimed Google+ was the biggest push to challenge social network giant Facebook. I took the virtual tour, and it was hard not to compare. As soon as possible, meaning I did it all my phone, I created my 18 year old Google Mail account (I’m only 17). I had my friend send me an invite, and from there discovered the world of Google+. After playing around with it all night, I found five major features to distinguish Google+ from Facebook.
Google + is completely strung together by the idea of “Circles.” Circles give you an attractive way of organizing friends and deciding who you are comfortable sharing certain information with. I know I’m not besties with all of my Facebook friends, and Circles are how Google+ is addressing that weakness in Zuckerberg’s armor.. The idea is that in life, you have distinctive ‘Circles’ of friends. Whether that might be friends, teammates, or best buds, it’s up to. Whenever you post something, you can choose which of your circles can view it in the stream.
The most innovative idea on Google+ is the “Hangouts.” Hangouts are group video calls, where you… hang out. The feature is unique and sounds attractive, putting Google+ ahead of the game. Facebook recently added video calls to their chat system, but does not have a group video call system. Hangouts moves us to the next feature, ‘Huddle’, for when you actually want to hang out, in person. The idea behind Huddle is being a group chat for your phone. If you have an iPhone or Android, this can actually be a very helpful feature. I have an android, and I found it is quicker and easier than even texting. You can start a Huddle can be between a couple friends, or a whole Circle. It’s extremely simple to get a message across to a group. Facebook does have group chat, but when you go mobile it’s just a regular message or email string, which can be a hassle. It might not win over Facebook users immediately, but it’s a feature that can come in handy.
Google tries to provide another simple, user friendly feature with instant upload. The idea is that with the app, any picture or video you take, it will be instantly uploaded to a private album on your Google+ account. It’s simple, but I never had any problem with merely selecting a few photos from my phone to upload to Facebook. My photography is a little shaky, so I don’t want a hundred blurred photos I end up deleting clogging up my account. Instant Upload just seems like an attempt to be original and simplistic. I would recommend disabling it on the first use.
The ‘Sparks’ feature on Google gives you a taste of Twitter. Sparks gives you the ability to search an interest, and articles featuring that interest will start flowing your way. It’s a helpful and easy way of getting information, similar to following on Twitter. I like the idea, although I can’t honestly say I would use it that much. There’s no real relationship between ‘Sparks’ and Facebook. Google+ gets another plus here for originality.
The rest of the Google+ structure is pretty similar to Facebook. You can attach videos, photos, and links to any post. A post can be commented on, and the post and the comment can both be +1-ed, or liked, by your friends. Photos can be put into albums and tagged by friends, all reminding me a little of Facebook.
Google+ is a good contender to Facebook. It has some really well put together and out there features, but the fact is the Facebook is a part of our daily lives. It is the Google search engine for people. 750 million people. It may take a completely different angle on social networking to take the reign.