I’ve had a Google+ account for a little over a week now, so I figure I’d share my first impressions about Google’s latest creation. I’m going to try to stay away from Google:Facebook comparisons for now and just stick with my opinions on G+.
Firstly, I should mention that I haven’t been able to give it a proper “social test” since I only have…4 friends on it. Most (read:99.5%) of the people I’ve gone to school with for the last two years have not joined. My invite and friends list came from some older friends. Maybe its time for some Facebook advertising to see who wants invites? But I digress. Here’s a link to a screenshot of my homepage to get thing started, and provide some reference:
What I can say is I like the UI, a lot. The arrangement of the various components feels very intuitive and learning to navigate it took almost no time at all. It’s very easy to quickly access exactly what you want. Photos, profile, feeds from your friends and chat are all clearly labeled and only a single click away from the homepage. This is how it should be.
I’m particularly impressed with the system Google has designed for photos, and how these photos are accessed. With a single click on the G+ navigation bar, the user is presented with the following:
There’s no need to click through people’s profiles to get to photos, they’re just right there. You can, of course, access photos directly from profiles, but I can see the “overview” type photo layout being quite popular. It’s essentially a photo news feed, as it lists the photo albums in order of modification date. I like it.
On to Profiles and Circles. At a first glance the initial layout of the profile page is pretty familiar, in that it has a profile picture, friends, a name and then assorted content relating to that profile. The About page is very clean and minimalistic, which is pleasant. The rest is pretty standard though, of course in the G+ styled theme though. Circles, on the other hand, are a new and potentially very powerful addition to the social networking toolset. Circles are just what you’d think; they let you sort friends into arbitrary circles based on your relationship with them. Different circles can be given different access levels to your profile, see different posts, etc. As you might have noticed on the homepage screenshot, the feeds from various friends can also be sorted based on the circle they’re in. This is definitely one of the defining features of G+.
There are plenty of other features I haven’t tried, like video chat, Hangouts, Sparks, etc. Once I start to build up more friends on the site I’ll be able to go through in more detail on some of those.
All in all, what do I think? I think Google+ has the ability to shake things up a bit at least. It’s hard to say if it’ll take over the social networking scene though. The possibility is there for sure though.