At the end of June, Google unveiled Google+ and entered into a head-to-head competition with Facebook. I have been on Google+ for less than a week and thought I share some of my first impressions. Just a quick reminder: Though I am a user of Google products (Google Apps, Android phone, etc.) In February of 2010, I wrote about how Google scares me. Frankly, that feeling of uneasiness is still around. That being said, here are some of my first impressions about Google+.
What strikes me is how the introduction of Google+ really morphs all of Google into becoming a social network. The navigation bar in my Gmail account, now seems to integrate sharing into every Google product. Notice my mention of a Gmail account. I am disappointed that Google+ was rolled out before it was available to users of Google Apps. Seems like those of us who pay to use Google Apps ought to be included in the rollout of new product. Usually that is not the case and I don't understand why.
When you first enter your Google+ home page you know right away this is a Google product. The design is pure Google simplicity with lots of that white space I am so fond of.
I have found Google+ easy to use, though at the moment, its not that easy to find friends to connect with or people and organizations to follow. Maybe that is because I haven't been on the system long.
I am extremely pleased with Google+ Circles. It is easier to to move my connections into Circles than to create a Facebook Friend List or a Twitter List. I love the drag-and-drop functionality!
I have not had a chance to use Google+ Hangouts, but I certainly like the idea of being able to get 10 people into a "Hangout" for a video chat.
When I first saw Google+ Sparks I thought about Yelp and the other sites that have you recommend or critique things and places. I can see a future where the Google +1 button becomes an important feature with the +1 being sought after by brands.
Google+ Photos is quick and well-organized. It's easy to use and there' a setting on my phone where I can choose to have photos I take with my phone automatically uploaded to Google+ and placed in a private folder for me to review later to determine if I want to share anything. The photo editor works well but I haven't had a lot of experience with it.
I think this project is an ambitious one, that has the potential to change the entire social scene. I don't, however, believe it is the death of Facebook like many others do. By calling it a "Project" Google makes it clear Google+ is a work in progress. I'm hoping that progress moves quickly to make the "Project" available to me in Google Apps. And there better be a seamless way for my Gmail account to transition to my Google Apps account.
Google has released a set of 11 videos explaining the project and its core features. Have a look and if you're already on Google+, please let us know what you think.