Google Plus First Look

Thanks to Robinson I got a Google Plus invite. I did manage to invite a few of my friends using a workaround before Google decided to stop new users from signing up. After using Google Plus for a few hours since morning, I have mixed opinion about the product. Some features are great while some are not upto the mark.

Before I begin, I must highlight two of the coolest features offered by Google Plus. One is a group video chat right out of the box and the other is group sms. Although I have not used these two, I believe these two can take away a large chunk of users from Facebook.

One of the best things that I like about this is the ability to add friends as circles. Just drag-drop them to new circles and drag-drop out of circles to remove them. Though this is same as lists in FB, I feel this is better implemented. Not because of the cool UI but because right from the first friend you add, you put that person in a circle. In FB, initially when you start you generally don’t classify your friends like that. When the number of friends becomes too much to manage easily, you try to classify them. This would be irritating.

Other than these two, there are some nice features like clickless navigation, better looking albums, wall, tagging and picture display. I could not find any limit to the length of text you can post. Although I could find the clickless navigation only when you hover on someone’s name, I am sure they will implement this in other places where needed.

They have simplified the about page. Thank God for that. Integration with Google Maps is good. Well, for that matter of fact, they are integrating all other Google products like Picasa and Youtube to it. In future, we can expect the Google URL shortener, docs and other products of Google to be here inside this.

Since Facebook and Twitter are two of the giants in social networking media, it would only be fair for us to compare each and every feature of Google Plus to these two. I am sure Google was also looking at these two while creating major features. The wall is from Facebook. It is good. Its kind of the defacto requirement for a social networking site now. The ability to follow people whom you are not friends with is good. It is from Twitter. Though they have changed the names, I hope they do not get into a dirty legal battle by suing each other over this.

Since this is a trail version, it does have a huge amount of bugs which need attention. Sometimes the video chat does not connect, your profile pic does not appear in the comments you make, AJAX implementation is not top notch like in FB. So a lot of times you need to refresh the page to see the notifications. But the biggest flaw I noticed is that Google missed (not sure if this is deliberate) to see that people can be invited by simply sharing some post with them instead of using the traditional invite feature. Because of this, too many people to whom the invite feature though not enabled managed to invite a too many people again.

I liked the feature of taking away all your data when you leave Google Plus. However, you can see all your search history when you were logged into Google. Though this is provided for you to share links from history, it is scary. It is a known fact that Google used to log all the search queries that we give but we always thought that they were locked up in some data center, condemed and no one will look into it. But only the search history from the time you sign up for Google Plus is displayed. At least it is partially consoling.

Some features which I would like to see are a better groups feature like in FB and some sort of better integration with mobile phone in all countries with no charge. When Google was testing video chat in GMail, it was actually piloting it for Google Plus. It is evident now. One more product they piloted for Google Plus is the +1 feature in search results. They are piloting Google Latitude and have tried to acquire Group on recently. Does this hint something crazy and super cool?

This makes me wonder if both Google Wave and Buzz are pilot projects of Google for something big. Although a part integration of Buzz is there, I feel a lot of work needs to be done there or something is coming up.

Dear Google, please give some feature by which we can transfer all the data we have put up on Facebook and other social networking sites to Google Plus. It is already available for blogs but for social networking, I don’t think it exists. It helps in a lot of people migrating to Google Plus. Really. There is something like managing accounts of other social networking sites but it does nothing but add a link to that profile page. There are a few other sites like Hi5, Linked In etc from which ideas can be taken and implemented in a better way.

Another point of interest is that Google Plus is out just a month after Facebook has made an announcement to go public a year later.

This is too early to comment on how good this is. But all I can say is, they have a very good foundation and can scale terrific heights from here if done properly. All I am left with are two questions. What happens to Orkut now? How is Microsoft going to react to this?

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