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Google+, should Facebook be worried?

Sep 29th 2011

It’s been no secret that Google have been desperate to get a slice of the Social Network pie for some time now. After Google Wave failed to create a stir, is Google+ the next biggest thing? We take a look and find out...

It’s been no secret that Google have been desperate to get a slice of the Social Network pie for some time now. Google+ isn’t its first attempt though, there was Google Wave.

Let’s be honest: we hated Google Wave. If we’re really, really honest, we didn’t even understand Wave. No-one did.

What is Google+
Google+, was launched by invite-only in beta, and is designed to destroy those awful Wave memories.
Google+ is clean. It’s smart. It has widgety Circles that you can waste hours creating and deleting again. And it will, in the coming months, attach itself like a limpet to every other Google service you use (including Picasa Web Albums and Google Search).

The Google+ feature that’s causing the biggest stir is Circles. With Circles you can create groups using a downright gorgeous dashboard, where dragging contacts from the top of the screen to cute blue Circles at the bottom becomes an addictive way to waste an hour or two in itself.

You can create as many Google+ Circles as you like, and call them anything you wish. Your contacts cannot see which Circles they’re in, and each contact can be in multiple circles. And when you delete a Circle, it conjures a cute vanishing animation that’ll have you deleting for the sake of it.

Streams are Google+’s very own Facebook Newsfeed – the stuff being shared by the people in your circles, be it words, pictures, videos or links. In truth, the Google+ Streams are not as easy to scan-read as Newsfeed – although the Stream page itself is a clean enough design, the accent on comments can make it confusing to chew through at a single sitting.

Sparks are the Google+ newsfeed channel, which you fill either by choosing one of the pre-sets (cycling, fashion, films, football), or by running a search (and it auto-suggests categories as you type). It all works, too, although the end result is a rather sterile (albeit clean and usable) experience.
Google+ has a profile much like LinkedIn and Facebook. Your profile is where you can upload pictures, details about yourself as well as other information.

The fine control of permissions within Google+ demands that you think quite hard about which Circles (or the world at large) can see what.

Google knows that this is an issue, so has built in a ‘View profile as…’ search field – you can then check that Amanda in accounts can’t see your worst indiscretions, posted in a moment of thoughtlessness.

Is it a Facebook killer?
Google+ is good; very good in fact. It’s clean, it’s simple, it works.

The Circle feature has certainly got Facebook reacting with changing the way that list are used and by making content more permissive. It’s fair to say though, that the recent changes by Facebook to adapt Lists and permissions in a more Google+ driven style have been far from well received.

As for should Facebook be worried? In my opinion, no, or at least not yet.

Facebook is a far richer and more advanced platform, that said, Google+ are just beginning with their most successful Social Media platform yet, so ask that question again in a year, and the answer will almost certainly be different.