Inside Google+

Kerry Butters

July 12, 2011

A couple of days ago I finally received my invite for the long awaited and subject of much speculation, Google+.

If you’re anything like me, as soon as you hear about the next potential phenomena, you’re desperate to try it out, so within minutes I was on and adding my friends.

The first thing I noted about Google+ is the simplicity of the layout and ease of use – everything runs smoothly and there are no glitches, always a pleasing start.

After accepting my invitation, my Google account invited me to complete my public profile, first upload a picture, write a little about yourself, all standard stuff.

Once this is done, you can have a little poke around, but like any social application, there’s not much going on in the feed when you only have one friend.

The feed appears much like it does in Facebook, on Google+ it is called the ‘Stream’, your profile picture appears at the top of the page under a box in which you are invited to ‘Share what’s new’ with buttons to add links, images etc.

To the left of the page, you can choose whether to include everyone in your stream or you can click on certain ‘Circles’ to stream their info only, all very convenient.

Which brings us back to the friends issue.

In Google+ you can add friends via your Gmail, Yahoo, or Hotmail account in the first instance – all you have to do is drag the contact’s name into the circle you want him in.

You can choose one of the circles already categorised by Google+, for example, ‘family’, ‘friends’, ‘acquaintances’ etc., or you can create a new circle of your own.

Then you simply invite them all via the button at the bottom of the page and bingo, you should soon have content in your newsfeed … sorry, stream.

For content that you like, you can use the +1 button, which Google+ describes as your stamp of approval; that will be the ‘like’ button then.

Once you have friends, you can create ‘Hangouts’ – you have to install a plug-in for this but again this is a simple process complete with a step-by-step installation guide.

When this is done, you install your webcam and then you can invite certain circles to come on voice and video chat with you – up to ten friends at a time can view the same content. Funky.

Content is also easy to add and the whole thing is ridiculously straightforward to use – advertising is conspicuous by its absence and the only criticism I would have at the moment is that Google+ is pretty featureless, something I expect will change quickly.

Account settings and privacy options can be found in the dropdown box next to your name to the top right of the screen. Here you can do all the usual things such as limit who can see your data – in this case you set whether just your circles can see the info, everyone or extended circles, which I assume would mean friends-of-friends.

When you’re ready to post your first status, the only glaring difference between this and Facebook is the ability to add each circle you want to share the information with.

You can share with family, friends, workmates, all your circles or just one – the information you give out is yours to control.

This is a great feature that I think will make Google+ popular – how many times have you found yourself holding back on Facebook in case your boss or your mum might see after all?

Google+ in my opinion, has potential. It’s easy to use, quick to load and so far I have only had a glitch with the chat function, it took a long time to load the one time I looked at it.

Of course, it’s a bit of a bore whilst you are waiting for your friends to wake up and smell the coffee, but at the rate invites seems to be flying out amongst my circles, I don’t expect it will be long before it livens up somewhat.

Will it take over Facebook? Only time will tell but I expect this to be a winner from Google this time if they can keep it as simple and uncluttered as it currently is.


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