I’ve been dabbling in Google+ for several days, now. I wanted to share some preliminary thoughts.
The integration of Picasa, PicasaWeb (soon to be Google Photos), Google+ mobile photos, and Google+ is a wonderful feature. This is especially true for those of us who primarily like to communicate using pictures or videos. If I offload pictures from my camera to my computer using Picasa, I can set Picasa to immediately sync this with PicasaWeb. Since my PicasaWeb is connected to my Google+ account my pictures are available to Google+ with whatever privacy settings I choose. (Note that you can migrate your pictures from Facebook to Picasa and Google+ using the Chrome extension Picasa2Web. It not only brings over the pictures but the album names.) However, if you click on the photo icon in Google+ you go to one interface with your pictures. If you click on ‘Photos’ on the black toolbar at the top of the page, you are taken to the PicasaWeb interface. I think that would confuse most of my friends and family currently on Facebook. Google+ wins in power, but Facebook wins in photo management simplicity. Which is most important to you?
I like the way the Stream (think Facebook News Feed) allows for conversation. I only see posts from people I have followed by placing them in one of my “circles”. But I also see the comments of everyone who responds to them if the commenter is not someone I follow. On the other side, I can post publicly (like Twitter) or to a limited circle of people (like Facebook). I like having these options both in one place. In this case, Google+ actually makes things simpler for me.
Speaking of circles, I like that they are asymmetrical. You can follow me (unless I block you) without my having to follow you. This twitter-like feature is more appealing to me than the mutual friending of Facebook.
I also like the user interface Google+ provides for putting people into circles. In this case it is Google+ that wins the simplicity score over Facebook.
Most of my techie friends are gaga over hangouts, the mult-player video chat in Google+. It is pretty rare that I have a nonbusiness use case for group video chat. It certainly isn’t enough of an advantage to convince a Facebook-lover to leave the dark side.
Speaking of the dark side, Google certainly seems to be addressing privacy in a manner far superior to Facebook. In the rare event I am left to wonder whether I am making something public or not, Google defaults to private until I say otherwise. This is a breath of fresh air after having been repeatedly depantsed by Facebook reverting my settings to public every time they change their feature set.
Could be better
I would like to be able to add comments, but control who can see them on Google+. Sometimes there are only a select few that would get my humor, innuendo, or inside reference. I would still like to put in my viewpoint and point those people to the post I found interesting enough to make a comment.
I would like to be able to opt out of having a celebrity’s post pop to the top of my stream every time some yo-yo I don’t know chimes in. It makes following interesting people burdensome because they bury the people who are significant to me. It really is more important to me to know how my nephew did in his race than what you think of Lisa Bettany’s latest photo. Sorry. It just is.
Along those same lines, I would like to be able to set my Google+ stream to default to a subset of circles. One I first drop into the stream I’d like to see my significant folks’ posts before I wander into posts from the people I find interesting or from whom I’m learning.
I’d like to see the Google+ album view continuously generate new pictures as I scroll down like images in a Google image search. I don’t like clicking Next. It makes me tired.
I would like the sidebar to float with me as I scroll the main panel. Hitting home to get back to the menu is more tiring than clicking ‘Next’ to see more pictures.
I would like to be able to post just one picture instead of an entire album from Picasa
I haven’t tried Huddles, the group texting service of Google+ on my phone. Pretty rare that I need to text more than one person, but I imagine that is a useful feature for my kids trying to set up a place to meet with their friends. In fact, they’re crazy if they don’t jump all over this.
I don’t know whether I will stick with G+ for an extended period of time. I’m enjoying the engagement with other people who have similar interests. I’m still a little skeptical that I’ll be able to replace Twitter or Facebook. In fact at this point, only my grip on Buzz has loosened.