Google+ Takes the Ring

There’s a lot of buzz going around about Google+, much of which is centered on its ability to topple Facebook. There isn’t a lot to really discuss when it comes to toppling Facebook,  as people have been fed up with security issues and the clunky settings interface for quite some time.  But, Google+ is really much more than just an alternative to Facebook. For me, it is likely to replace, not only Facebook, but major functions of Skype and Twitter as well. They have done so much right, and are on the brink of doing so much more.

Circles

Everyone knows that social media is ripe for opportunities to say the wrong thing, forgetting who is on your friends list. Expressing frustration about your job? Boss just saw that tweet. Planning a surprise party? The recipient is a friend of a friend.

Circles not only allow you to keep work, friends, and family separate, they allow you to control who sees what EASILY! You can choose to share with one circle, multiple circles, extended circles (friends of friends), individual people, or everyone in the world. What’s best is the options are obvious right when you create the post.

Accidently forgot to include someone? Just share your post with all the correct people and circles and delete the original.

Sparks

I use twitter largely to keep track of what’s hot in tech news. With Sparks, not only do I get that, but I can separate into types of news. I can have a malware spark, a network security spark, and a windows tips spark. Very convenient and well organized, though once in a while, not entirely on topic. Windows tips for example will give you tips not only about the Windows Operating System, but tips about keeping the windows on your house in good repair. Much of this can be circumvented by using well defined keywords, much like when using a search engine.

Hangouts

This is one of the features I am most excited about. Besides being a very well executed video conferencing service, that YouTube button is something that has incredible potential. Real time multimedia sharing is not only entertaining, but has potential in both business and education. For video entertainment, I would like to see Google add Netflix and Hulu Plus. Being able to have a movie night with people from around the US, as long as everyone has their own Netflix or Hulu account that is, would be a lot of fun. This would be an excellent marketing opportunity for Netflix as well.

When discussing this with a friend, the potential became more obvious. Branching beyond video entertainment, you could share e-books with a place for real time notation and have a virtual book club, bring in your Google docs for a business meeting, or integrate one of the many music services to share music. The possibilities are endless.

Integration of other Google services

Another aspect of Google+ that came up in conversation was how well, Google owned, Picasaweb integrated with Google+. Though there are a few privacy concerns related to how tagging in Picasa will affect sharing in Google+, it’s certainly a nice feature.

Many of Google’s services have also been getting facelifts to better integrate with Google+ as well, such as google calenders, or the Preview (Dense) theme in gmail. As time goes on, I suspect we will see more and more interoperability between google services.

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