So last week, we talked about how Google was introducing its new social service, Google+, to the masses. After a week of initial feedback and insight, we will look at how Google Plus is faring. Generally the reaction has been positive but as with most new services, there are always some drawbacks.
Firstly, the main positives of Google+ are its fresh User Interface, the use of Circles to organise groups of contacts and Google+ hangouts. As it competes with the main social networks of Facebook and Twitter, Google+ has gone after areas which can improve on their rival sights. The User Interface (UI) is seen to be clear, clean and user friendly. While Facebook has become cluttered with Ads and other information, the Google+ homepage remains stylish and slick. Users are more enamoured with this user face as it is simple yet elegant and offers quick effective use.
The use of Circles is another development which has received widespread acclaim. These Circles allow the user to manage how and who they share their information with. Creating these groups for friends, family, classmates and colleagues ensures that you only share information with whom you wish. Unlike Facebook which allows much more cross referencing, is often derided as your information is generally available for all your contacts to see. It is now much easier to customise the information you want to share and the people you want to interact with.
The third popular feature is the use of Hangouts. A Hangout is an area where you video chat. Instead of creating a video chat system where you search out your friends, you now have the opportunity to join a ‘hangout’ and interact with up to 10 people. This feature has proved incredibly popular thus far and Google will be hoping that it will be the feature that will win over users and increase the profile of Google+.
While Google Plus offers many positives to the user, we have found some issues that may affect its popularity. Noises in the stream, the use with apps and lack of search options have been offered as negative aspects. The noise in the stream relates to the news feed and the fact that too much information is shown. It updates for every comment made by friends in your network and this is tiresome for the user to spend time on.
Google+ is also not synchronised with Google Apps accounts. This has been an issue for users who are attached to their email and want to use Google+ with their App account.
Also, as Google has built its success on its search function, it is strange not to see a more comprehensive search facility on Google+. User feedback that a stream search function would increase usability and ease of service.
While these are negatives, they are in no way irreversible. It is very early days for Google’s latest social venture. Some features have received a very positive response. However, it is Google’s reaction to it’s users feedback that will determine whether Google+ can grow and someday compete with Facebook and Twitter. Only time will tell but it is a very exciting time for social media users and we will follow the progress of Google+ closely.