A Basic Overview of Google+
A question that I’ve been asked quite a bit recently is, “What is Google+ and why should I use it?”
Now this is a perfectly reasonable question, and I am here to give you a basic rundown of this new product.
Google+, or G+ for the hip, is a multi-lingual social networking and identity platform. It was launched on June 28th, 2011 and has been slowly gaining steam since.
A Sleeping Giant
Google+ was declared by the NYT as Google’s biggest attempt to rival Facebook. As of today, G+ has 250 million users. G+ was premiered as an invite only format, but on September 20, 2011 G+ was opened to everyone 18 years of age or older.
But you might argue that everyone is already familiar with Facebook, so what makes G+ so different?
Google+ offers a variety of unique new features that represent the next step in social-media networking.
The central feature of G+ is the concept of Circles. G+ users can organize their connections into “circles” based on selected attributes (such as shared hobbies, education, personal interests, etc.). The user is able to customize what is shared amongst each circle, allowing for specific audience-tailored interaction. The members of a circle are selected via drag-and-drop, replacing the function of a friend’s list. Circle membership must be approved by both users, and custom privacy options monitor circle activity. The default circles are Friends, Family, Acquaintances, and Following. The possibilities of circles are only limited by your imagination!
So if circle’s is the new friend’s list, then Stream is a re-vamped New Feed. Users can see updates from those within their circle via the Stream. Posts, videos and photos are all available for upload. You can control what is streamed in each of your circles through a “slider” configuration which has 4 options: nothing, some things, most things, everything.
Another ambitious feature of G+ is the Hangout. A Hangout is a location used to facilitate group video chat (maximum of 10 members to each individual Hangout). The Hangout instantly connects users with video chat and allows for a number of in-Hangout tools such as document sharing, scratchpad, and screen sharing.
Along with these core features, G+ offers a range of other tools. G+ Messenger allows users to communicate with IM through their smart phone technology. Users can identify topics through Sparks, which displays “featured Interests” drawn from topics that are garnering global interest. G+ offers their own version of Games, which are located under a games tab, reducing visibility and producing separate notifications. Re-sharing activity can be monitored with Ripples, the G+ visualization tool.
These are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the usability of G+.
All In One Place
Google+ represents a complete stylistic overhaul of the GoogleVerse at large. Google favorites such as Picasa Web Albums, Google Maps, Gmail, Calendar, Google News, and Google documents are all being redesigned. The idea behind this is that the entire Google workspace is integrated and uniform in its appearance and function. This cross platform unification will establish a central dashboard where all of a user’s Google tools are conveniently located and accessible.
Additionally, G+ includes a feature allowing for the import of contacts from Yahoo! And Hotmail.
G+ is the next step in social media networking because it integrates all of the functions you are already using, with its own personalized social media platform. By switching over to G+ you will experience vast improvements in versatility, usability, and efficiency.
But don’t let us tell you what to do. Check out this video below: