Friday, November 18, 2011

Google+

Today's app of the day is Google+.

Well, it was only ever going to be a matter of time before I recommended Google+ as the app of the day. Of course, it isn't a perfect app, but considering that the web version of Google+ is not even a year old, the mobile app is very impressive. If for example, it was compared with some of the original Facebook apps, I am sure that anyone would agree the Google+ is acting well above it's age!

For those who have been hiding under a rock (or offline) for the last 6 months, Google+ is Google's most recent, and most successful (in comparison to Buzz and Wave) attempt at cracking the social network market. With phenomenal growth rates, and a loyal user base, it is clear that at least for the immediate future, Google+ is here to stay.

So why should you get the Google+ app? Before answering this question, for the time being, I think the biggest question for the majority of the population will still be, Why should I sign up for Google+? For me, I think it is best not to think of Google+ as merely trying to steal users from Twitter and Facebook in a replica service. Instead, Google+ has created an entirely new form of social networking, which remarkably, manages not to overlap with both of it's main competitors in too drastic a fashion and ultimately, may be the most "social" of them all.  In short, I think there is room for Google+Twitter and Facebook in any well balanced person's life.



Let me explain, in three simple bullet points, the distinction between the three networks and for what purposes you may use each:

  1. Facebook - staying in touch with friends and family (sure, you can now "subscribe" to those beyond the realms of your social influence, but for the time being, it isn't the primary reason people use Facebook). 
  2. Twitter - keeping up to date with those beyond your realm of social influence (news services, celebrities, journalists, etc). On Twitter (for the majority of users), even though the majority of people you follow don't often know you - you still know them (mainly because, quite simply, they have some level of fame).
  3. Google+ - keeping in touch and seeing content not from friends and family (Facebook) or from the rich and famous (Twitter) but from everyday, ordinary people who share similar interests to you. Keen photographer? Follow a few "circles" of photographers, and in no time you will have a fantastic stream of new images in no time. Keen gamer? Writer? Into the outdoors? Tech? Science? You name it, there are millions of people out there with similar interests to yourself, sharing or creating interesting content in subject matters that you relate to. 
So in a nutshell, Google+ is not about following the people you know. In fact, if that is how you use Google+ you will quickly find your friend count stagnate under 100 (or slightly more if you have a particularly "tech savvy" group of friends) and find the service of very little use. In the same vein, if you go celebrity or news service hunting, you may find a few interesting people, but in most instances, Twitter would be your best bet for this form of "following". No, Google+ is all about following the strangers on the street and seeing where they take you!

Additionally, there is an amazing sense of community on Google+. It is not uncommon to write a post or share something interesting and in no time have 10 additional people add you, receive four or five +1's and get a number of comments from unrelated users!



So, in the first instance, if you do not yet have Google+, click on the the G+ symbol in the top left of this site, and get started! Once signed up, try and follow at least 100 random strangers. If you are having trouble finding users to follow, add me and then send me a private message (simply by writing a message and sharing it only with me). Ask for some good people to follow, along with your interests and I can send you in the write direction, and even share some of my circles with you to make it all quite easy!

Now, once you have Google+ working on your desktop, the next logical step is to get the official Google+ app. As I have said, it isn't perfect, but it is still pretty damn good! Features include (from the developers):

Circles let you share the right things with just the right people.
Visit the stream to get updates from your circles or see what people are saying nearby. 
Instant Upload automatically uploads videos and photos to your own private album on Google+, making sharing a snap. 
Messenger is super-fast messaging for everyone in your circles.
Mobile Hangouts allows you to video chat with up to 9 friends while you’re on the go.



If you are still not sold, here are few resources which explain why you should be:


Price: Free