By now you’ve probably heard that Google just recently has launched the latest way for mankind to share pictures of adorable cats and videos of people getting hit in the crotch , Google Plus. (Funnily enough, that was also the week MySpace got sold off for $35m after News Corp. had sunk an estimated $1.3b into this venture.) As of right now, it’s invite only, but I was able to try it for a few days now while everything is still in the second of the three phases all new things on the mighty intarwebs go through inevitably.
- Phase 1: Access is still highly limited. You’re not a part of it, but you seemingly don’t care enough. You don’t have enough time for all those superfluous shenanigans anyway. Which, at this point, probably is true since you’re busy begging people for an invite.
- Phase 2: You’re in! Make sure that the rest is reminded of this by constantly babbling about how they’re missing out because it’s the coolest thing ever. Also follow other general recommendations for what science has come to describe es ‘probably slightly being a dick about something’. (Bonus point: Write a blog post.)
- Phase 3: Everybody and their mom is in by now. You will reminisce about how it used to be much nicer and less bloated in the early days, i.e. some time last month. Before, you know, they sold out.
Now that we’ve established that for no real reason, let’s briefly talk about Google+. It’s actually somewhat snappy and useful the way Wave and Buzz never really were. People seem to be embracing it with a fair amount of goodwill which, I guess, is partially based on Facebook’s perceived disregard for user privacy, their inability to fix exploits, and their tendency to sneak in new ‘features’, enabling them by default while not informing anyone properly. (Obviously, it’s not like Google is a complete saint either.)
The Circles feature works nicely and feels more manageable than Facebook’s list – and it only took a few days until someone tried to
copy adapt the concept. The video chat (Hangout) was implemented rather well. Oh, and you can edit status messages in order to get rid of that one bloody typo that somehow made its way into the text. There also are other features you may or may not be aware of — see also here.
A few aspects need to get fixed/improved though:
- The interface needs to be more compact: Google surely does love their white/line-spacing, but combined with another Google+ design choice –pictures and videos not being minimized the way it’s being done in Facebook– this means you’ll be scrolling a lot. Let’s not even talk about what the Stream looks like on a netbook. This can be slightly compensated by decreasing the font size in your browser, but it’s not exactly an elegant look.
- Link edits: While you can edit status messages, the same cannot be said about content you’re linking to. Rather than being able to fix a broken or improper headline or pick the best excerpt of an article, you have to rely on whatever Google+ fetches automatically.
- Search functionality: Good luck finding that one website you or someone in your friend list on Facebook or Twitter neighborhood mentioned a few weeks ago. Neither of those services provides an adequate search option. If only Google knew how to search content… oh wait, you guys do! Google+ integration, anyone?
- Group hug: Another of those “but Facebook does it!” pieces: If several people in your Stream link to the same piece, it would be preferable if those links were grouped/clustered. As of right now, that’s not being done, and only increases the scroll factor (see first bullet point).
- No Google+ version of ‘poke’: How will Google+ users annoy each other efficiently or try to establish contact someone they fancy in an awkward way?!