So Google launched a new thingee called Google+ and folks are all atwitter about what, exactly, it is. Or does. Or is supposed to do. Or will do, when you do whatever you’re supposed to do when you find out what, exactly, it is. If you’re curious, you’ve come to the right place: an article written by someone who describes unknown things on the intertubes or intratubes as “thingees” and “whatzawhozits.” You know, I talk techie. I’ll try to tone it down.
1. Google+ is a social network that aims to fix what the Google Lords believe to be an “awkward” status quo of online sharing (ZING! Facebook pwn!). Basically, it’s Google’s way of competing with Facebook AND Twitter because it can do it better vis a vis some seriously rad integration. Sad Pandas are urged to sign up for an account on the Google+ sign up page, wherein everyone else who somehow magically scored an invite is milling about in blindfolds, pressing buttons, adding people to things called circles and then waiting to find out what happens next. Which is something no one really knows right now. So if you don’t have an account and don’t know much, you’re not alone!
Short answer: Google+ is some sort of Facebook-y knockoff that should be stratospherically easier to use because the internets should just be called the Googlenets already. It will also make everyone feel like an octogenarian stabbing an iPad in frustration because WHAT DO WE DO AND WHEN AND HOW DOES TECHNOLOGIES WORK? Pls to tell us how to enjoy you, Google+.
2. Google+ is tighter on security and your personal informations. They never actually say tighter than what, but we all know what it’s tighter than. Mark Zuckerburg’s asshole, that’s what. What happens is, instead of adding people as “friends” and only being able to select visible information settings by “friends,” “friends of friends,” “friends of Mark Zuckerburg’s ad network,” “everyone” and “no one” (strangely, that radio button never seems to work…), users of Google+ add their contacts to “circles,” a few of which are already created for you: “Friends,” “Acquaintances,” “Following,” etc. The platform also allows you to create your own circles so you can only share photos of you nursing your baby to others who are not offended by such thing. Because, you know, THAT OTHER SOCIAL NETWORK takes them down. So, whatever. Circles allow for “targeting” certain things to certain people: the folks in the circles you create and/or to which you have assigned them. WHEE!!!! It’s starting to make sense, maybe.
Short answer: you put people into groups that are called circles and choose what information each group has access to and THAT IS THAT. You fling stuff at certain people, or otherwise known as “targeting” them. No unannounced changes or fine print or knowledge of calculus just to figure out how to prohibit your family from seeing what a slut you are (female OR male). And just like in real life, you can choose to dump a whole bunch of them in certain circles and enjoy ignoring the hell out of them. Just like Emily Dickinson would have said: I’m in ____________’s “Nobodys” circle! Who are you? Are you in __________’s “Nobody” circle, too?
3. The whole “circles thing” not only organizes your peeps, but it does so easily and at the beginning of your G+ adventure, unlike Facebook, where you actually have to make a conscious decision to create a list and add them one by one (ish). Someone at Google explains those methods don’t work because they’re “tack-on” and not integrated at every level. You just drag and drop and poof! FIN.
Short answer: That was the short answer.
4. Photos! Videos! Multimedia Hangouts!: Google+ rocks this.
Photos: There’s a section specifically dedicated to your adventures and the user has his/her own page that includes all photos posted and those in which tagged. But it doesn’t stop there! Hell no, this is GOOGLE. There’s an image editor all snuggled up in there where you can edit photos and add Instagram-like effects. Security is as tight here as you want it to be.
Videos/Video Chat/”Hangouts”: Mashable and the guy referenced up there from Google describes it thusly (and far better than I could, because I can’t hear myself think over how awesome this is):
The video chat feature might be one of the most interesting aspects of Google+. [The guy from Google] and his team thought about why group chat hasn’t become a mainstream phenomenon. He compared it to knocking on a neighbor’s door at 8 p.m. — most people don’t do it because it isn’t a social norm. However, if a group of friends are sitting on a porch and you just happen to walk by, it’s almost rude not to say hi.
That’s the concept behind “Hangouts,” Google’s new group chat feature. Instead of directly asking a friend to join a group chat, users instead click “start a hangout” and they’re instantly in a video chatroom alone. At the same time, a message goes out to their social circles, letting them know that their friend is “hanging out.” The result, Google has found in internal testing, is that friends quickly join.
One cool feature of Hangouts is that it doesn’t place a chat window on the screen for each participant. Instead, Google changes the chat screen to whoever is currently talking. It quickly switches from video feed to video feed, moving faster in bigger groups. The maximum members in any video Hangout is 10, though users can get on a waitlist and wait for someone to leave.
Short answer: It’s pretty fucking cool. This is how it looks when used.
5. Google being Google, it will offer a feature called “Sparks,” which is a “recommendation engine” that uses algorithms (naturally) to give you, the G+ User, content it thinks you’ll find interesting. It will also allow for easier grouping of your own searches for whatever content you seek. Sparks is the junction where G+ leaves its Facebook-like features behind and uses Twitter-like features for instant information access. You can share information immediately with your friends, comment on others and spread it like an STD in college.
Short answer: Think Twitter and how quickly you can discover news and information and the general goings-on of your friends. The little +1 box (see below) you’ll be seeing everywhere you go will, when clicked, share your clickee with your friends.
6. If you have a Google profile, you’ll be seeing cute little +1 boxes when you skip ’round the intertubes. This shows you who recommended a particular article (etc.). It’s visible to anyone and people with your email address can easily find it. PLUS (pun absolutely intended) , your +1 recommendos are stored in your Google profile for the world or no one to see. See? Security rocks. You can also put a +1 button on your webpage. Plugins such as Sexy Bookmarks are already rolling it out, although you can bypass by adding it directly. You may notice that Google has already replaced Buzz buttons with +1 buttons, aiming to not just share something but to provoke conversations about recommended items.
Short answer: +1 is basically your telling people something is cool and they should check it out; a conversation starter, if you will. Also, publicity! It’s kind of the point of the intertubes now.
7. Of course there will be a mobile app. It will have access to everything to which you have access on the actual web platform itself. The cool thing is that you can instantly upload media. It stays private until you log in through the web, but then you’re free to adjust its settings.
Short answer: Really? That’s not short enough? Do you get frustrated at how long it takes to toast a Pop-Tart? Ease up, Sparky, you’ll get an ulcer.
8. Huddles are Google+’s way of allowing you to chat with many friends at once. There’s no limit to the number of people you can chat with, and any participant can invite others to join. This is basically a better attempt at Wave, which was a spectacular failure in that it was all rolled out at once with basically no instruction.
Short answer is short.
9. Once you’re in, you can easily create a more user-friendly link to your Google+ page. To make your short URL (easier to pass along and allow others’ access to your page than a string of numbers), simply use “Google Plus Nick,” also known as gplus.to and follow the page directions. At this time you don’t personally see your short URL when you’re on your page, but when your short URL is entered it will take you to the same place. This may change, as the same was true with Facebook when they rolled out their personal URL capabilities.
There are skeptics that are expecting it to be a failure like Google Wave, or even Buzz, with its limited popularity. But pessimists can also look at Gmail, where folks were absolutely clamoring for invitations to use the email system, fighting over them like frosted-hair moms in Toys ‘R Us when Cabbage Patch Kids were all the rage. So, time will tell.
All together, now:
CON: As of July 31, 2011, Google will be deleting all private Google+ profiles. Unlike Facebook, where users can set their pages completely private (and which won’t even appear in online searches), Google+ does not work this way. So sayeth Google:
The purpose of Google Profiles is to enable you to manage your online identity. Today, nearly all Google Profiles are public. We believe that using Google Profiles to help people find and connect with you online is how the product is best used. Private profiles don’t allow this, so we have decided to require all profiles to be public.
Keep in mind that your full name and gender are the only required information that will be displayed on your profile; you’ll be able to edit or remove any other information that you don’t want to share.
If you currently have a private profile but you do not wish to make your profile public, you can delete your profile. Or, you can simply do nothing. All private profiles will be deleted after July 31, 2011.
It makes sense, but it’s definitely not for everyone. If you don’t want to be found, this probably won’t work for you as your name and gender will be publicly available. If you want to be found or don’t mind it, this isn’t a big deal. Your inner bits can be customized for security, but your basic profile is either public on Google+ or you won’t have one at all. Them’s the breaks – there’s always a con. At least, however, you know this going into it and your settings aren’t arbitrarily adjusted without your say (*coughFacebookcough*).