Here I sit writing about this, positively giddy about the imminent release of Google+… this is of course nothing new; I was one of those desperate people looking for an invite to Google Wave and did I use it in the end? No and very few others did either. Then came Buzz, released to everyone with a Gmail address so no invitations required. Did I use that? No, I linked my twitter feed to it and walked away… Too much noise.
So, why is this time any different? I think this XKCD cartoon strip sums it up very nicely
But then again I signed up for Diaspora and still waiting for that to save us all from Facebook so I may be on a hiding to nothing. If however, like me, you want to sign up for it you can sign up to request a Google+ account here.
It’s highly unlikely that you won’t have heard about Google+ but for all of you out there who have a life, here’s a brief roundup.
Of course as you would expect all the vital components are there. You have a profile and that is managed from your Google Profile details that already exists so that will hold your picture, personal details and links to you across the web. The stream is pretty much as per your Twitter or Facebook news stream and lists all your shared content and messages from you and your circles. Photos is also like Facebook photos but also includes an online editor facility to tweak those pics.
Using Sparks is a bit like creating a favourites list of what your interested in. Add an item to search on and add to your sparks list, when you next click on that interest, you will be shown links to blog posts, videos, books — anything that Google searches for. No doubt +1’s will play a vital part in this. These listings can then be shared with your circles. Alternatively you can see what others are liking and talking about globally in the “Featured interests” area.
Circles is the equivalent of your friends lists on Twitter. You create groups within your circle of friends by activity or family whatever. Instead of broadcasting the same message to all your friends, you are focusing on those who you are aiming the message at.
Hangouts is a video chat area. When two users want to chat they enter a hangout. A message goes out to their Circle and they too can join in. The testing done so far internally is that friends quickly join in up to a maximum of 10 members. Someone wanting in can join a waiting list and get in when someone else leaves.From those that have seen demos is that Hangouts doesn’t place a chat window on the screen for each friend. Instead the video flips between who is talking at the time. It’s going to be interesting seeing that work when 10 people talk at once.
Google will also be launching mobile apps for Google+, starting with Android and adding other Mobile OS’s will come later. The Android app will include access to the Stream, Circles, Sparks and multimedia.
Any photo or video you take on your phone through Google+ will automatically be uploaded and 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.
Group texting applications was tipped as one of those big things for 2011 at SXSX. It’s gone a bit quiet since then but now Google is reviving the idea with Huddle.