My initial impression after logging in was…. um, okay. But then I realized that social networks aren’t any fun without one’s friends, so I got busy inviting friends and adding those already on Google+ to my “circles.” A few days in, I have to say I really like Google+ a lot. Cool features, granular privacy controls, interesting ways to interact with friends, family and acquaintances.
Rather than reiterate Google+ features (which you can read about here), I’d like to note what I like about Google+:
- User Profile: Easy to set up user profile and user can share only as much (or as little) as you’d like. I can share details with my circles, with extended circles (my friends’ circles), or broadly with any web user. Google has left that decision up to me, and I appreciate that!
- Stream: The post stream is reminiscent of FriendFeed in that you see posts from folks you’re following. If you follow a wide variety of people, your stream will be more diverse and interesting than following just a few users. You can choose to see a Stream from everyone you follow, or select a specific Circle to only view posts by those users.
- Post settings: I can decide on a post-by-post basis who can view the post. It can be public (viewable by anyone on the web), limited to those following my friends, as well as limited to my circles, or even individual users. Nice granularity!
- Circles: Easy to determine what level of access other users have to my posts by using the Circle feature. I can set up private circles for close friends and families. I also have a circle set up including folks I interact with on Twitter, as well as another circle that includes folks I don’t know well but find interesting.
- Android App: App is available via Android Market as well as online via forum.xda-developers.com (handy for folks outside the U.S.). For an initial release, the Google+ android app is surprisingly full-featured and fun to use. I’ve set most notifications to be pushed to my phone rather than my inbox filling with various types of Google+ notifications. I’ve seen a few comments about high battery use with the app, but I haven’t experienced any unusual battery drainage with Google+ android app running on my unlocked SGS2. (Also see my SGS2 review here.)
- Interaction with Google employees: Google+ is a lot of fun and an interesting social product. I love how Google employees are accessible and interacting freely with G+ users. Makes Google+ even more fun!
Some ideas for feature enhancements (I’ve submitted all of these to Google via their “Send Feedback” feature):
- Stream (post) order: Let users determine which posts they want to have “bubble” to the top of their streams. Right now, posts that receive a lot comments, shares or +1s automatically move to top – this approach “crowds out” other equally interesting posts by less popular users (similar to the Scoble effect on FriendFeed). While I can “mute” any post to stop seeing it again, I’d prefer posts appear chronologically in my stream (newest at top). Note: Googler Kelly Ellis posted a video today mentioning a new algorithm will be implemented this weekend, to instead give higher ranking to posts from friends. Sounds like a good improvement, although I’d still love a setting to enable me to always see newest posts displayed at top.)
- More granular ways to monitor posts: A noted above, I can mute a post so that it no longer appears in my stream. However, there are some posts that I want to go back to later, to read new comments. I’d love to see a new option added under the “Stream” listing, called “Monitored Posts” or something similar, to see new activity on posts I’ve commented on, shared, or +1ed.
- Make Google nav bar at top persistent: Google+ provides a Google navigation bar that offers easy access to other Google products like Gmail, Calendar, etc., as well as a Notification Alert (that turns red when user has notifications). Currently, if I scroll down, the Google nav bar disappears. Instead, I’d love to see it persistent, so that it remains viewable at top of screen even if I’ve scrolled to bottom of a Google+ page.
I’m delighted with what Google is offering with its new Google+ product and enjoy using it. Kudos to Google for hitting it out of the park on this effort and to all the Googlers involved!