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The biggest advantage of Google+

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Google+ Cheat Sheet

Google+ user Simon Laustsen is the guy you’ve got to thank for this very handy Google+ cheat sheet. 

Simon’s cheat sheet gives you an overview of most of the common syntax, hotkeys and tips you need to know in order to drive Google+ like a samurai.

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Google+: First impressions – By AllGooglePlus guest blogger Fernando Fonseca

Google+: First impressions by Fernando Fonseca

The Internet is pretty excited about Google’s newest attempt to enter the social media realm. After disappointing experiences with Google Wave and Buzz, many were skeptic about the search giant’s ability to make something that would actually work in an intuitive way. After some hours exploring Google+ my opinion is that this time Google got it right. There are some interface issues, features that are missing and that one could expect to be already integrated but, overall, the user experience is great and the system doesn’t feel buggy at all. At the moment I am writing this post Google+ invitations are still unavailable, but they are rolling out steadily and you can request your invite here if you haven’t already: Google+ invites.

Fighting Facebook with Circles

The Google+ team has been listening to what the main complaints about Facebook are: privacy concerns or the Kafkaesque venture of organizing your “friends” into different lists, just to name a few. Google+’s solution for this is called Circles, something that reminds me of the Diaspora* project but, unlike the open source project, allows you to add one contact to several circles, which replicates in a better way the relationships we all have.

Google+ Circles

These “Circles,” and the way you organize them, will be the basis of your experience when on Google+. Good organization will allow you to have a better experience and don’t worry, your contacts will never know in what circle you put them in.

Hanging out

Remember how you have a video chat with lots of people on Google Wave? On Google+ you can do that too with a major difference: it actually works. Up to 10 people can join a Hangout to talk, text chat and share videos. I am sure that other types of media and features will be added (Soundcloud comes to mind as well as Google’s own Calendar) making the Hangout not only a social space but a working space as well.

Google+ Hangout

The Android factor: Huddle and Instant Upload

Google+ Android Huddle Instant Upload

As soon as I got my Google+ invite (courtesy of my partner in life and everything geek,Donna Winter), I downloaded the Android application and was immediately hooked. The user interface is clean and it brings with it “Huddle” which seems to be Google’s attempt to take on RIM’s BBM. With 500,000 Android devices being activated every day“Huddle” has the potential to become the preferred instant messaging service for millions of users. The Google+ team didn’t stop here and seems to understand how mobile plays a huge role in our life. Instant upload is a hassle free sharing feature that does exactly what it’s name says: Take a picture or shoot a video with your Android device and it will be immediately uploaded to a private album on your Google+ account. You can then edit the caption and share with your circles if you wish. What I’m missing here is seamless integration with YouTube, meaning that I would like to have an option to upload the videos straight to my YouTube account via Google+ but I expect to see this happening in the near future.

So, is it all good on Google+ and will it kill Facebook?

The answer clearly is no and maybe. There is much to be done and some of the options in Google+ don’t make much sense right now. One of those options is the introduction of something that they are calling “Sparks.”

Google+ Sparks

“Sparks” are based on search keywords but they are not a part of your stream and that’s a problem. If you’re interested in a certain subject the probabilities that you want to know what is happening are surely high. What I would really like to see is total and seamless integration of my Google Reader feed within my stream but, for this to happen, Google+ has to quit bumping posts to the top with every comment that is made on them. This is something that is really annoying since it doesn’t allow for new content to be discovered.

To be a Facebook contender Google+ has to attract developers able to create the kind of applications that have users hooked on Facebook and should work on the user’s desktop and mobile devices, then find a way to monetize the applications. This is a big challenge but it brings with it a lot of creative opportunities.

Sharing on other social networks is also mandatory: if Google+ wants to win this war it has to allow users to share from their desktop or mobile, their updates with other social networks and applications, and become the social media center for its users. There is an extension already available for Chrome but it forces you to post and then share to Twitter and/or Facebook.

Final Comments

There is a lot to be done to make Google+ THE social network but Google started on the right foot. In my opinion the most appealing features are the ones that allow you to share your mobile life in a very easy and transparent way. I am sure that we will see many Android developers integrating Google+ with their applications and others that will make sharing to other social networks from within Google+ a seamless experience.

Find me on Google+ and please leave your thoughts in the comments.

Originally posted on JUNE 30, 2011 @ The Zargon

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Google’s Latest Social Network: Google Plus – Mashable

Google has finally unveiled Google+, the company’s top secret social layer that turns all of the search engine into one giant social network.

Google+, which begins rolling out a very limited field test on Tuesday, is the culmination of a year-long project led by Vic Gundotra, Google’s senior vice president of social. The project, which has been delayed several times, constitutes Google’s answer to Facebook.

The search giant’s new social project will be omnipresent on its products, thanks to a complete redesign of the navigation bar. The familiar gray strip at the top of every Google page will turn black, and come with several new options for accessing your Google+ profile, viewing notifications and instantly sharing content. The notification system is similar to how Facebook handles notifications, complete with a red number that increases with each additional notice.

At its core, Google+ is a social network. The first thing users are introduced to is the Stream. It’s much like the Facebook News Feed, allowing users to share photos, videos, links or their location with friends.


That’s where Google+ begins to diverge from Facebook, though. The focus of this social project is not on sharing with a mass group of friends, but on targeted sharing with your various social groups. To do this, Google uses a system called Circles.

Gundotra explained that most social media services (read: Facebook, Twitter) haven’t been successful with friend lists because they’ve been designed as a “tack-on” product rather than being integrated at every level. Gundotra also believes that current friend list products are awkward and not rewarding to use.

Google+ Circles is an attempt to address that challenge. The HTML5 system allows users to drag-and-drop their friends into different social circles for friends, family, classmates, co-workers and other custom groups. Users can drag groups of friends in and out of these circles.

One of the nice things about the product is its whimsical nature — a puff of smoke and a -1 animation appears when you remove a friend, and when you remove a social circle, it rolls away off the screen.

Photos & Group Video Chat

It’s clear from the extended demo that Gundotra and his team have thought about every aspect and detail of Google+ thoroughly. The photo, video and mobile experiences are no exception.

Google has created a section specifically for viewing, managing and editing multimedia. The photo tab takes a user to all of the photos he or she has shared, as well as the ones he or she is tagged in. It’s not just photo tagging, though: Google+ includes an image editor (complete with Instagram-like photo effects), privacy options and sharing features.

The video chat feature might be one of the most interesting aspects of Google+. Gundotra and his team thought about why group chat hasn’t become a mainstream phenomenon. He compared it to knocking on a neighbor’s door at 8 p.m. — most people don’t do it because it isn’t a social norm. However, if a group of friends are sitting on a porch and you just happen to walk by, it’s almost rude not to say hi.

That’s the concept behind “Hangouts,” Google’s new group chat feature. Instead of directly asking a friend to join a group chat, users instead click “start a hangout” and they’re instantly in a video chatroom alone. At the same time, a message goes out to their social circles, letting them know that their friend is “hanging out.” The result, Google has found in internal testing, is that friends quickly join.

One cool feature of Hangouts is that it doesn’t place a chat window on the screen for each participant. Instead, Google changes the chat screen to whoever is currently talking. It quickly switches from video feed to video feed, moving faster in bigger groups. The maximum members in any video Hangout is 10, though users can get on a waitlist and wait for someone to leave.

Content Discovery Through Sparks

To spur sharing, Google has added a recommendation engine for finding interesting content. The feature, Google+ Sparks, is a collection of articles, videos, photos and other content grouped by interest. For example, the “Movies” spark will have a listing of recent and relevant content for that topic.

The system is algorithmic — it relies on information from other Google products (e.g. Google Search) as well as what is being shared via Google+ and through +1 buttons.

The goal, according to Gundotra, is to make it dead-simple for users to explore their interests and share what they find with their friends. Google+ is attempting to become the one-stop shop not only for sharing content, but for finding it as well. In some ways, it reminds us of Twitter and its mission to become an information network, and “instantly connect people everywhere to what’s most important to them.”


Google will also be launching mobile apps for Google+, starting with Android. The Android app includes access to the Stream, Circles, Sparks and multimedia.

The addition of these features in a mobile app isn’t a surprise. What is a surprise, though, is the app’s auto-upload feature. Any photo or video you take on your phone through Google+ will automatically be uploaded to your computer, ready to share. These uploads aren’t public, but the next time you log onto your desktop, the photos button in the status bar will have a number, indicating how many new uploads are available for sharing. It keeps these photos and videos available for sharing for eight hours after upload.

Gundotra says that Google intends to launch apps for Google+ on other platforms in the future.


Google freely admitted to me during our conversation that its previous attempt at social, Google Buzz, did not live up to expectations. Bradley Horowitz, Google’s vice president of product, says that part of the problem was that Buzz was just “tacked on” as a link on millions of Gmail accounts, something that Google won’t be repeating. Horowitz also says that, unlike the Buzz rollout, Google+ is a project that will roll out in stages.

In many ways, it reminds us of Gmail’s rollout. Invites to Google’s email service were so sought after at one point that people were selling them for $50 or more on eBay. While that type of fervor may not hit Google+, we expect the artificial scarcity will drive up interest while giving Google time to work out the kinks.

No matter what Google says, Google+ is the company’s response to the rise of Facebook. The two companies are in heated competition for talent, page views and consumers. While Google controls the search market and has a strong presence on mobile with Android, it hasn’t been able to crack the social nut. Its most successful social product, YouTube, had to be acquired, and it still ranks as one of the most expensive acquisitions in the company’s history.

Has Google finally nailed social with Google+? We’re going to publish more of our thoughts on Google’s new social network in the next few hours, but we will say this: Google no longer gets a free pass in social. It must prove that it can draw users and keep them engaged in a way that doesn’t replicate Facebook or Twitter’s functionality. Only time will tell if Google has finally found its magical arrow.

via mashable.com

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