Google+ wants to be the latest addition in your online life. With millions opening accounts, we’ve taken the social network for a spin. Read on for our hands-on impressions – is it worth ditching Facebook for Google+?
Andy Vandervell isn’t convinced
As a Facebook and Twitter user, I’m fairly accustomed to social networking – public and private. Google+ seems like an attempt to merge the two. Its unique Circles system is slick, and makes sending updates to specific groups of people much easier. It’s also possible to ‘follow’ people without them following you, giving it a Twitter like public aspect.
However, slick as the interface might be, it all feels a little too much like hard work. I’m used to the idea of Facebook as the network for my ‘real’ friends, and Twitter as a public sounding board. Keeping those worlds separate feels natural, simple and easy – Google+ is not.
Nikki Whiteman’s in love
I love Google+. The Circle system lets you be a friend and a colleague, public and private at the same time. You can post instant updates that are longer than tweets, but add richness and detail with blurbs from articles, images, videos etc. It takes some of the best things about Facebook and gives you more control over how you use them, and who sees the results.
The one thing I’ve found, though, is that I end up sharing almost exclusively with my ‘friends’ circle, because I’m nervous about crossover between the groups. This means that my family, acquaintances and work colleagues rarely see content from me. One of the best things Google+ could do would be to encourage people to share with the majority of their circles, unless we were certain that this info should definitely remain private.
Angus Farquhar points out the quirks
I am a heavy Google user (I have a Google Apps account with my own URL, I use Docs, Gmail, YouTube, Calendar, Contacts, Android phone, Chrome) so having a social network that can access all of these products easily is really attractive for me. However, at the moment there isn’t really anything that makes Google+ stand out.
I like its clean interface and the fact it isn’t cluttered with apps like Facebook, and I would definitely be a heavy user if all my friends were on there. But there are a few quirks that need ironing out – there’s no way that I’ve found to send a private message to another user, instead you have to set up a private Huddle with just them, which is hardly intuitive.
And me, Patrick Steen? Sign me up
I was always reluctant to sign up to Facebook, but as the number of friends who had joined grew, the temptation became too much to bear. Ultimately, Google+ will experience the same tipping point. If sign-up’s continue as they are (almost 20 million in under a month) we could soon see a mass exodus from Facebook
I’ve been pleasantly surprised by Google+. Let’s face it, Facebook looks a little past its sell-by date. Facebook’s recent changes to its Chat feature (it now takes up a third of the page and shows people who aren’t even online) is going backwards rather than forwards. This makes Google+’s modern interface attractive.
Unlike Andy, its Circle’s feature feels entirely natural to me. In fact, I find it liberating. I would never think of adding “online” friends to Facebook, but since I can have separate groups on Google+, I can add a whole new audience. I needn’t bother my family with the latest tech innovation, I can share it with just my technology circle. Facebook makes this impossible, without alienating everyone else who won’t be interested.
I am slightly concerned about the privacy implications of Google+, but I don’t see how these problems are any worse than on Facebook – and Google has been very open about protecting our privacy from the get-go.
So will you sign up to Google+? And if you’ve already joined, let us know what you think about it – we haven’t even touched upon features like Huddles, Hangout or Sparks. Would you split up with Facebook to jump straight into bed with Google?