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We take Google+ for a spin – time to dump Facebook?

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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?

Comments
Profile photo of wavechange
Member

It is amazing how big Google has grown without attracting severe criticism. With more care, Microsoft might have achieved this.

Many of us thought that Google Street View would end this, but it did not. Maybe Google can run social networking in a more professional way than Facebook have managed. I hope so, because I am fed-up hearing criticism of Facebook.

Profile photo of william
Member

As I see it, its for Facebook to lose it, rather than Google to win it. If there are too many more unannounced changes forced on me by Facebook, I think I’ll be more than happy to jump ship.

Member
Edward Coodies says:
29 July 2011

If everyone else does, I’ll reluctantly jump on the bandwagon. I agree that the facebook chat feature is just awful but I really cannot be bothered to start a whole new social networking page. Isn’t facebook, twitter etc enough?

Profile photo of jo g
Member

Have joined as a group of my friends have. Thus far am waiting to see if it becomes more user-friendly.

My initial criticisms:

1) There’s no app for the BlackBerry, so I’m less likely to engage with it when I’m out and about. I have to make a concerted effort to use it.

2) The sharing function ‘+1’ – to see what people have +1’d you have to go into their profile and look under their +1 tab. Frankly I either can’t be bothered or forget to look.

3) From your Google account it doesn’t take you straight to the homepage. You can go to your profile, but you can’t post anything when in your profile view, only from the homepage.

Still, it’s early stages, so maybe some of the initial quirks will be worked out. After all, Facebook revamped and revamped and revamped etc and we got used to that. Same with Twitter.

Profile photo of Nikki Whiteman
Member

On your third point – there should be a “+Jo” in the top right-hand corner – my “+Nikki” takes me straight to plus homepage with the stream with everyone’s posts in it. But I might be misunderstanding your point.

On your second point – ABSOLUTELY! It’s weird that doesn’t show up in the stream, makes me less likely to +1 things, and I often end up sharing things instead if I actually want people to see them.

Profile photo of jo g
Member

Thanks Nikki! I’ve found my +Jo in the top lefthand corner. It’s tiny (short name) hence why I missed it.

Profile photo of lombear
Member

I am really quite taken with it – most people I am interested in are now on G+ and I am checking facebook once a week now at most. Need an app that can post to twitter and G+ at the same time but otherwise I am much happier – especially as I can now rant to specific people rather than having a secret twitter ranting account 😀

Profile photo of Nikki Whiteman
Member

Hi Lombear – there’s a Chrome extension for that! I haven’t tried it yet (as my plus is personal and my twitter is work – twitter.com/whichaction if you want to follow =), and from the comments it looks like there are tweaks to be ironed out, but a friend of mine uses it and says it’s great.

Profile photo of lombear
Member

Thanks Nikki – I am kinda hoping Tweetdeck will support it soon (but their purchase by twitter may hold that back)

Profile photo of lombear
Member

In addition I think the biggest threat to facebook is their rather antiquated architecture – Their MYSQL timebomb could well result in some significant issues for the development of the service in the future

Member
Paranoimia says:
29 July 2011

Already on there, and much prefer it to Facebook. Using the Chrome browser with the excellent and still developing StartGooglePlus extension, it’s a smooth and highly integrated experience.

Although I know games etc. are probably coming, it’s nice not to have notifications that Person A is playing some irrelevant web-based game which I’m not interested in, and not to receive those constant requests for items in this game and that game. It’s nice to be able to converse with like-minded people, and share things with limited circles, rather than telling everything to everyone – which I feel benefits them as much as me, since I’m sure not everyone I’m friends with on Facebook is really interested in much of the videogame-related stuff I post.

And perhaps it’s just me, but the people on G+ who I’ve seen so far can at least type legible English, rather than “all dat gangsta an txt spk u get on Facebook, innit!”

Member
Peter Chapman says:
29 July 2011

It has simplicity and ease of use. Facebook must be utterly baffling to anyone that didn’t grow along with it, there’s plenty on it that confuses me and I’ve had an account there for years. There’s just too much.

Ironically, I also like the fact that G+ only has the people on it that I’m interested in and enjoy communicating with – mostly tech-savvy, smart people who migrated from, or now split their time with, Twitter.

I fully expect that enjoyment to change with the influx of new people using G+ but I hope that Circles will enable me to continuously filter so that I don’t get the 90% white noise and intelligence-insulting drivel that currently makes my Facebook wall unusable.

As for what I’d like to see… I think Circles would benefit hugely from an “All except” function rather than having to manually add every circle except the one you want to miss your post. I also think Sparks is a brilliant concept, one that has been hugely successful on the iPad with apps like FlipBook. If G+ could make that a little more prominent it might prove very popular.

Finally, I’d like integration in a desktop app so I can have some sort of notifications outside of my browser tab. Either a notification system, standalone application or integration into an existing desktop client like TweetDeck (not likely now, I know) would be perfect for the way I use social networks.

Member
robb192002 says:
31 July 2011

As someone who has made limited use of Facebook and no use of Twitter, the idea of using a Google social product is a big turn-off. These were the people who collected data from unsecured wifi networks via their Street View camera cars. I ve shared enough inconsequential data already!

Profile photo of Patrick Steen
Member

Yep, the privacy implications are worrying with a big company like Google.

Member
john.mccolgan says:
2 August 2011

I removed myself from facebook, I don’t use twitter or any other of the fading from memory sites that were once the vogue…… The reason? ….. Facebook spoiled it with their information gathering greed about me and my habits. I will decide what shops I want to visit. I will decide that I dont want to buy something after closing a website window. I may be a dinosaur (aged 55) but I still rmbr the days b4 social networking sites and how nuch less family stress there was b4 electronic nasty lies, stories and malicious gossip. I love Which btw xx