Google+ Is Like Facebook and Yet Different
There are lot of things flying around right now regarding the Google+ social network the company rolled out to invitees only June 28.
With all apologies to those out of the circle of trust, the Google+ URL is https://plus.google.com/.
Joe Wilcox of BetaNews asked if Google got + right. I don't know if it got it "right," but it doesn't feel "wrong" and it is different from Facebook.
Rather, it works a different from the social network it's intended to provide an alternative for, but it looks a whole lot like Facebook. Seriously, see my Facebook profile:
And now my Google+ profile... Amazingly, Facebook and not Google is the one with sponsored ads as a differentiator. Give Google time though. I specifically suggested to Google+ creator Vic Gundotra to lay off the ads.
Somewhere in Palo Alto, Calif., Facebook lawyers are deciding what they can do about this striking similarity. But I digress.
Here is the chief way + is different from what I can tell, and it's a big deal. Facebook was built from the ground up to let users see everything they and their friends post, an approach that has always rankled me even as I kept uploading photos like a picture-hucking fool.
Google has created the Circle mechanism to provide more "nuanced" socializing online. Users manually drag others into "circles" to communicate with them, sharing links, videos, photos and status updates.
Users may join or build their own Circles that involve family, friends, acquaintances, those users want to follow. I love the fact that I can pick and choose how my social graph is oriented, rather than having Facebook do it for me in one fell swoop. Circles explained:
Yeah, it takes more time, but I'd rather take the time than have to suss out who I don't want in my social network.
Users see updates from those in their Circles via the Stream, an analog to Facebook's News Feed. Also, when you want to call out to someone in +, you follow the hastag model from Twitter. That is +ClintBoulton if you want to address me.
There are also Sparks, or topics users may indicate interest in. Hangouts leverage the Google Talk gadget to enable casual video chat sessions around a topic. You need to have the Google voice and video chat software plugin to "hangout."
Users may also update their status, huddle via group messaging and upload location, photos, videos and more from the mobile app in the Android Market.
Yes, you can do all of that from Facebook, too, but Instant Upload is a differentiator in my opinion, allowing users to upload pics from their Android smartphone in big batches and share them with whomever they choose later. ReadWriteWeb's Sarah Perez drills down into the Instant Upload process here.
This app worked well. After logging in and giving Google+ permission to link my Picasa pics, I posted a brief note and included a picture from my phone's gallery. I hit post and a second later it popped up on my Google+ stream on my laptop sans refresh.
Ah, the power of the cloud. There are a lot of great thinkers opining about Google+ now. I encourage you to read at least the posts listed below to get the best handle of the product. Coverage includes history, product, and how it works.