Online behemoth Google is taking a swing at arch-rival Facebook with the launch of Google+, which plans to bring social networking to its stable. But has it got the meat to take on Facebook?
Google+ aims to answer a dilemma we’ve all faced; namely that what you’d share with your best friend is a far cry from what you’d tell your boss.
To that end Google has launched Google+, a suite of online services that lets you create private groups of close friends, discuss your passions with like-minded individuals or simply hangout in a virtual lounge.
My Circle of friends
The lynchpin of Google+ is Google Circles, which is designed to make it easier to organise friends, families and colleagues into small, easy to manage groups. It’s a great idea, although Facebook does offer similar functionality.
I’m fresh(ish) back from Glastonbury. Before going, a group of us set up a private Facebook page so we could make plans for travelling to the site. My sister also requested we post status updates to see how we were doing, with one such update including a picture of me in orange face paint I’d rather my colleagues didn’t see!
Setting up a private page is just one way you can filter your Facebook friends; you can also put them in groups for separate privacy settings. But, to be honest, it’s all a bit of a faff. Creating circles of friends is the foundation of Google+ and it definitely looks more seamless than Facebook’s work around.
Strike up a conversation about anything
Sparks is intended to let you share your passion about ‘pretty much anything’. Over the weekend, I’ve enjoyed doing just that in ‘real life’ as just about anyone at the festival opened up about their passions for music, comedy and more.
It’s also easy to do online – I’ve previously written about how some of the virtual friends I’ve met in an online writing community have befriended me on Facebook. But again, Google’s way of doing things looks much more effortless. It’s leveraged its search engine expertise to bring you all the content related to your interests, which you can then share with other “nerds”.
Google’s +Hangouts makes things more sociable, by letting you create a live multi-person video room, where you can drop in and out of group discussions. Think Skype video conferencing, but web browser based and free (you don’t need to download additional software and Skype charges for video conferencing).
I like it. What better way for my friends and I to reminisce about a great weekend now that we’ve spread back out around the country but want the festival to live on?
Google+ looks promising
In the past I’ve been cynical about Google and have had concerns about its treatment of personal information. But first impressions of Google+ are good.
My Facebook circle of ‘friends’ is far bigger than the one I have in real life. The chance to easily create intimate groups online that more accurately reflect my friendship group is welcome – I’ll be watching this space with interest, as I am sure will Facebook.