Yesterday, Google announced their competitor to Facebook, named quite simply, Google+. There are plenty of features native to Google+, but then again, there are plenty that were completely ripped from Facebook and other social networking sites.
Since I'm an avid user of Facebook (as is Pocketables,) I think it's best to give a comparison between the two. I'd like to come right off the bat and say that I am not giving out any invitations to people I don't know. Sorry, but I like my privacy. I lead a boring life anyway. You aren't missing much.
With that, let's delve into what makes (or will make) Google+ so special.
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For those of you running a full blown desktop operating system on your UMPC or MID, let me walk through the homepage of Google+ (Mac OS X, obviously, although that doesn't matter much since it should be the same look throughout any OS). On the left, you've got a notifications bar. This lets you know what goes on throughout your Circles, which we'll get to later. Beneath that bar is a Chat option, which is pretty self-explanatory.
In the middle is the Google+ equivalent of a Facebook Wall. The difference here is that you can set individual or groups of Circles to see what's being posted. Privacy is a big concern with + for a pretty good reason: in some lines of business, you don't always know who's on the receiving end of your emails. This Circles setup allows for great privacy control, so that's something to think about when comparing it to Facebook, which has definitely had its fair share of troubles in that category over the years.
On the right, you've got what we'll call a friends bar. This shows who is in which Circles, and then below that you can send out invites to your friends, check your Hangouts, which are basically video-chatting rooms, and log onto Google+ on your mobile device.
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Think of Circles as your groups in Facebook's Chat. Mine are 'Actual Friends' and 'Other Friends.' Yeah. However, Google knows that not every Facebook user knows that's possible to do, so they did it for you. You can rename your Circles or even add extra ones. It's nice to have all of your friends easily accessible just like this.
So the desktop variant of Google+ is pretty much a Google-oriented Facebook. But when we get to mobile, well, that's where things get really bad for Facebook.
Your Stream is basically your Wall. Huddle won't open for me on my Droid Charge. It is a defective unit, but that shouldn't matter. Anyway, I'll try again sometime and fix this post accordingly. Photos is just that, and Profile and Circles have already been explained, and they haven't changed from the desktop version.
One of the reasons I think that Facebook might suffer a bit from Google+ is the fact that Google owns both + and Android. If you remember from yesterday, 500,000 new Android devices are activated every day. If Google decides to preinstall the Google+ app on Android devices, more and more people will use this instead of Facebook. At least, that's where I see this going. Maybe it won't make a difference, but I think that it probably will put at least a little damper on Facebook's reign over the social networking kingdom.
When I first opened my Stream on this Charge, I instantly thought it looked a whole heck of a lot like the Facebook app. And to be honest, Google probably ripped the UI for the app from them, too. That doesn't matter much, though; great artists steal, right?
To build on that point, the user experience for Google+ just isn't that much different from Facebook (as of right now.) And that's a good thing. Facebook has a winning formula, and Google obviously wanted in on it.
But Google can most definitely improve. And I'm going to explain how they can improve right now.
Here it is, folks: Google needs to capitalize on Android's success for Google+ to take off. There is no reason to not make certain features available only for users of Android devices. I know this is sneaky, too, but you can also simply make a better app on your own platform to boost sales for yourself. It happens with other companies, too, you know. And I don't think Google is in it for anything else but money.
Tell me in the comments if any of you have used Google+. Do you like it? What do you want to see done? Does anything need taking out? Go wild with ideas, please.