The Internet is buzzing today about Google+
, the search giant’s highly anticipated answer to Facebook. It’s a social network that’s strikingly similar to the
social network, but aims for a greater sense of simplicity and intimacy.
At its core is a featured called Circles. Using this feature, members of Google+ can organize their contacts into groups. The contacts are pulled from a user’s Gmail account. All they have to do is click and drag.
said Google has made this process as simple and intuitive as possible.
“It’s so good, that you might even say it’s kind of fun,” TechCrunch
said. “It beats the pants off of the method for creating a group within Facebook.”
The interaction on Google+ is meant to mimic the real world.
“In real life, we have walls and windows and I can speak to you knowing who’s in the room, but in the online world, you get to a ‘Share’ box and you share with the whole world,” Bradley Horowitz, a vice president of product management at Google, told The New York Times
Google+ also features a search box—which the search giant referred to as more of a “sharing engine”—along with group text messaging and video sharing.
Charlene Li, founder of the Altimeter Group, gave Google+ high marks for what she calls “friendship management.” In a blog post
, Li writes:
“Friend management has been the bane of my Facebook experience because I don’t want to share everything with everyone. I also made the mistake of accepting far too many friend invitations with the result that I share very little on my ‘personal’ account. While there are tools like Facebook Groups and friend lists, they are incredibly cumbersome and difficult to use.”
With Google+, a user is conceivably taking their “real” friends—the ones organized in their Gmail contacts—and enabling the user to interact with them online.
Despite the praise from TechCrunch
and Li, there are some downsides to Google+. According to Li:
“Now for the scary privacy part—remember that Google also ‘reads’ the contents of your email to show you ads on the side of Gmail. For the most part, we’ve gotten over this. But what if I gave permission (note: permission is crucial!) for Google to make recommendations on if and when I should add someone to a group? If I’m emailing someone frequently about biking trails, Google+ may suggest that I add that person to my biking Circle. Fundamentally, you would have to have a deep, trusting relationship with Google at a different level for this to happen. But the benefits could be tremendous.”
, meanwhile, has said Google may be too late in introducing the new platform. Facebook has a stranglehold on much of the sharing that happens online. Plus, Google has in the past rolled out highly anticipated platforms—Buzz and Wave—which have been deemed a failure by many.
According to the Times
“Google has been criticized for failing to understand the importance of social information on the Web until competitors like Facebook and Twitter had already leapt ahead. Part of the blame, analysts say, falls on Google’s engineering-heavy culture, which values quantitative data and algorithms over more nuanced, touchy-feely pursuits like socializing.”
Time will tell for Google+, and you’ll probably have to wait some time to have a crack at it. The service is being rolled out to select people, who will be able to share it with others.
To learn about all the features of Google+, visit the Google Blog
. Meanwhile, here’s a quick look at the platform: