Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The New Google+ vs. Facebook

     My close friends know that I was kind of shamed into rejoining Facebook after a long absence by a circle of older ladies who were incredulous I was so behind the times.  It's odd that I didn't immediately take to Facebook since I am kind of a technogeek.  Balancing out my technogeekyness, however, is a very strong sense of my own privacy.  It would not occur to me to share personal details I see posted on Facebook (by people other than my own friends, of course, who only post intelligent and sensitive observations that enrich and inspire.)  Since I'm already on that slippery Facebook slope, the technogeek in me won the battle to check out the new Google+ service that became available today to everyone without an invitation.  You may click here if you're so excited about this you wish to join Google+ immediately without reading the rest of my review of this new service ► https://plus.google.com/  For those of you who can contain yourselves a bit longer, here's my thoughts on it.

     First Impressions:  Not much different than Facebook.  The box along the top asks you to post a status update.  To the left you'll see your various "circles" or groups of friends, much like the new groups update to Facebook.  To the right you'll see suggestions of new friends and a place to receive invitations to events.

     Privacy Controls:  Naturally, the first place I want to look at was my privacy settings.  They're not much different from Facebook's new ones.  I also had to go into my settings and turn off the options that E-mail you every time there's any activity on your Google+ account.  My thinking with both Facebook and Google+ is I'll check-in when I feel like checking in; the last thing I need is a bunch of updates in my E-mail inbox telling me what everyone else had for lunch and that they've uploaded new baby pictures.

     Digging a Little Deeper:  There are some unique and kind of cool things on Google+ you won't find on Facebook.

     Major Cool Feature #1:  Hangouts – What they are is basically Skype, but you can videoconference with more than one person at the same time.  You can choose which circle of friends or family have access to a hangout you create.  For me, instead of just Skyping with my daughter in Texas, we can now hold family conversations with all of us in the same room.  Everyone with whom you’re videoconferencing shows up in boxes underneath the main picture.  There's also Hangouts with Extras, which has some cool features (see below) that might be very useful if you're actually working on a group project.  For me, it's just kind of neat to be able to have my whole family in a single room seeing each other and talking.
     Major Cool Feature #2:  Huddle – Naturally, Google+ has an app for your smartphone.  Huddle allows you to create what amounts to a conference call while you're texting.  Everyone sees everyone else's text in the group, so if you're planning a dinner, for example, you can text with everyone simultaneously and get a date and time set.  This will also probably be a major cool feature for young people to chat with their friends.

     Now we move from the Major Cool Features to what I would describe as the "Meh" Features.

     Meh Feature #1: Instant Upload – Pictures on your smart phone will automatically sync with the private album on your Google+ account.  Instead of having to upload pictures one at a time, you'll have them right there for easy access.  It simplifies things, but I don't know how I feel about Google having instant access to every photo I take.

Meh Feature #2: Sparks – This sounds to me basically like a glorified Google search.  Supposedly, you enter things in which you are interested such as "The Episcopal Church" and Google+ will steer you toward websites, blogs, etc. in your area of interest so you'll always have something to read.  I'll give it a try, but it sounds more like I'm being mined so Google can produce more targeted ads.

     While Google+ has some great new features, the biggest drawback I can see is none of my friends are on it yet.  I'll certainly encourage my family to open Google+ accounts so we can use the Hangout feature, but it seems like a lot of work for most folks to migrate over to a new platform.  We'll see – that's probably what they said about MySpace when Facebook came along.


  1. Thanks for the review.It has made me curious.

  2. Glad you liked it. I'll keep my Google+ account, but I don't know how I could get my 70+ friends on Facebook to ever migrate.

    If Google had some kind of app that would transfer all your stuff, I think that would draw people.


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