Google+ (Google Plus) Invite and First Look

Google+ is out for a few weeks now and I recently had my chance to get an invite and do a quick review. Google+ is the newest social networking platform launched by Google after a few failed projects with Google Wave and Google Buzz. This new platform seems to hold more water and promise but the question remains if people will be making the switch from Facebook.

The way Google is launching this new platform is like what they did with gmail— via invites from people you know. Once you are invited, you can invite other people too. So whoever wants an invite, just leave a comment with your email and I will send you one.

There are 3 new things that makes Google+ significantly different from Facebook:

  • Circles
  • Hangouts
  • Sparks

I’ll get to each one later with more detail. Here is the welcome screen after your initial account sign-up. (Click on image to enlarge)

Its a great page to start with and it tells you quickly what the 3 new things are.

CIRCLES

It lets you group your social networking contacts. The idea is you may have a group of friends from work, your family, and maybe your gym buddies. Your friends may not be interested in your family photo and your mom may not be interested in the latest protein shake flavors. Circles lets you group people into “circles” and whenever you share something, you can define to share it to only a specific circle, multiple, or all. This way, your shares are relevant to the people you are sharing with. A contact may belong in one or as many circles as you group them in and all your circles are private. People will know that you added them to a circle but they are never told what the label is.

Here is a quick video by Google:

 

Here is the interface of how you can manage your circles.

HANGOUTS

This feature is very interesting. It lets you create an online “hangout” where people and contacts can just drop in. Using webcam and mics, you can just discover who among your friends has a hangout and just drop in to chat. Its very cool as you never know who is around and lets you meet and talk to people who you might not otherwise. Say your high school buddies have all grown up, gotten married, and now lives in different part of the globe. Hangout lets you casually create rooms where you could just chat casually without the frills of setting up a web conference or anything tedious as that. It worked right into your social network. Pretty cool.

Here is the Google video:

 

SPARKS

Sparks is a customized newstream, by choosing topics, browsing posts, Google+ identifies the topics you may be interested in and then searches what other people with the same interest found appealing and showing them to you. Its a fun way to discover. Just like you have your own assistant that knows what you love and care about and lets the content come to you.

Here is the video:

Google+ is similar to facebook in so many ways, here is your user dashboard after you login. It feels very comfortable right off the bat and there is the thing you need to get a good grasp on is circles and how the privacy of sharing is done in context. You choose what circles you want to share to and the privacy is built in right there.

Here’s a screen.

CONCLUSION

There you have it, at first glance, Google+ seems promising. Its fresh, new, and very user friendly. However, for a social platform to take off, there has to be people using it. It remains to be seen if people will be switching from Facebook just like they did from Friendster to Facebook.

Most of my contacts in Google+ are my tech friends who are early adopters and somehow mostly male. If you haven’t tried it yet, now is a good time to try, just leave a comment on this post with your email and I can send an invite your way. Cheers, thanks for reading.

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