Google keeps searching for blank spots for a possible better and more sophisticated user experience for all kinds of applications. Most of us know them for their search engine which dominates the search engine market for over years now with Bing hopelessly trying to catch up. We also know them for Gmail, Google Maps, Google Earth, Picasa, the not so successful Google Wave and now they come up with their own social network. It almost feels like they want to say “Hey Facebook, I’m going to kick you down the drain and take over your market share because here at Google we just do everything just a little bit better than the competition.”
To get a first look at Google+ I can highly recommend this video on youtube by lifehacker.com
Of course they dedicated a blog post to it which can be found here.
Also make sure to check out this video.
I’ve watched the YouTube movie, read the blog post and now also have a test account and am able to share some first impressions.
I can be very short on this one. Looks and works almost the same as in Facebook. No major differences, just looks okay and easy to use.
In general, I must confess that the user interface looks very calm and natural. The structure looks real easy and hasn’t all kind of distractive flashy stuff going on. Next to that, it looks as if it only contains stuff that matters. In comparison to Facebook you can now see how great it is to not have your screen filled up with all kind of ads and banners you didn’t ask for. In this demo version you’re not spammed with this kind of stuff but as soon as traffic starts hitting the ceiling, they just might ad advertorials to make more money out of it.
Personally I’m quite active on all kind of social networks and social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etcetera. It is quite a challenge to be aware of the fact that everything you put online, can be read by your followers. Therefor I try to use Facebook to share the more private stuff I don’t want the whole world to see, for example photo’s of my little daughter or a picture of a new LED TV I might have bought. If I put that on twitter with twitpic, the whole world knows it and the bad guys come steal my new TV. You just don’t want to share everything with the masses. However, since Facebook is becoming more and more commodity for all generations (Generation-Y, X and also the Baby Boomers) and since it’s also used to connect with your business relations you often need to think twice before you put that late night-out picture online. This is where Facebook has a blank spot which is greatly filled in by Google+ his feature called circles. You can create circles as in a specific group of people, for example colleagues, friends, family, sport club members etcetera with whom you want to share specific content. You just drag an update onto a circle and only the people who are a member of that circle will see that update. That way, you can use one social network (Google+) to share all your great moments in life with only those people you think it’s relevant for and you want to share it with. Sounds great doesn’t it?
I don’t know what to think off sparks right now. In basic, it’s a way to not only share content but discover new content based on your search terms of interest. For example, if you’re interested in sports cars, it can show you content on the newest Ferrari models. From this spark, you can share this content with your buddies in your stream. I think that if the power of Google search is well integrated in these sparks, we just might start using this almost as an alternative for the “classic” Google search. I don’t exactly know yet, but it’s interesting to see what will happen in time.
The seamless integration of Gmail, Google search, Google Documents etcetera in just one app or webpage is really amazing. You now have a one stop shop for your documents, email, social network, search activities etc just all integrated into Google+. That sure is a real +
This blog post isn’t really supposed to be a review but more a way to get to know Google+ just a little bit better. Personally I’m very interested in the business model for Google+. How do they want to make money with this? Will it be based on (sponsored) top search results on sparks? Will it be through annoying banners? Will it be advertisement in your video chat hangout sessions? Or will it be more sophisticated? I don’t know but I’m going to check this out for sure. I’ve also read that people already have found ways to import your Facebook contacts into Google+ so let’s also find out (after Google+ is released) if people will start using Google+ next to or instead of Facebook. We also need to keep in mind that Facebook is massively integrated in all kind of websites and has tons of standard plugins and Facebook apps so it has a real strong position in the social network world. I’m just going to keep an eye on it to look what will happen.