For those of you who have followed my blog, you know I am kind of obsessed with Google. Not only has this company changed how we interact with the web, it has given the world, or at least the majority of it, access to a wealth of information, organized and prioritized in a way that makes it easier to find and opened the doors to instantaneous communication. Who are we kidding, I am a huge fan, and Google continues to earn my admiration through constant improvement to it's already encompassing array of offerings. While not all of Google's changes and updates are well received, the latest move by this interactive super power has been an attempt to conquer the world of social media. And while I was admittedly not in a hurry to add one more social network to the line up I am currently trying to keep up with, I have joined Google+, and I am here to give you my first impression based solely upon what I see.
1. Google+ Profile
The personal profiles on this social network are incredibly simple and clean, much like every other one of Google's properties. However, for all us of who have grown up on Facebook, there is a striking resemblance. I imagine when the f8 update is fully rolled out, there will be clearer differentiation between the two. But for now, like Facebook, the Google+ profile includes an image and list of "circles" to the left, feed of posts in the middle and suggestions for connections down the right. While both have tabs that organize the different types of content you upload and share, Google+ is unique in that these are across the top instead of the left side, and I like it that way.
2. Google+ Photos
Probably one of my favorite features of this new social network is the photo layout. Set up much like Flickr, you have sets and then when you select a particular grouping, the images appear arranged as tiles like your own photographic mosaic. Through Google's smart technology, it automatically decides shape, size and organization, then uses lightbox viewing to flip through the photos. See for yourself. As far as I am concerned, even bad pics would look great in this set up.
3. Google+ Circles
The biggest difference I have noticed so far between Google+ and major rival, Facebook, is the grouping of contacts into "Circles." Facebook has tried to match this innovative idea by introducing Friend lists and the Subscribe option, but I think Google+'s version is much more fun. Plus, in order to organize the people you want to connect with, you get to drag and drop them into the literal circles that you create - Friends, Family, Coworkers, or whatever else you use to categorize the people you follow online. This feature is good in function, but it is great in form, visually the tops.
Like much of the rest of the world, I rely on Google for more than search. As a digital native, I have grown up switching between my email, calendar, documents and more, all online and all set up through Google. What Google+ has managed to do is seamlessly integrated into this set up. I can post directly from my Gmail and keep up with Notifications every time someone posts about me without checking Google+. I am such a fan.