It's everywhere at the moment. Everyone is talking about it. Not so many have managed to use it yet. I am one of the fortunate ones that has had a few days to use it and learn about it and see what it can really do. So, here's what I think about Google's new social media project Google .
The first thing I noticed about it is that it is very shiny! We knew something was coming when colour scheme of a lot of the Google products changed late last week and it would seem that Google is one of the reasons for this change. I can't deny, I love the new colours and layout of Google itself and Google feels a lot more like a web "application" than a new social media site.
So, what's different that Google hope will make Google more popular than other social networking sites, such as Facebook? Well, the first and for me most important and major step beyond what else is offered out there is the way to dish out content to a particular set of people (as defined by you) by using circles.
Circles are, fundamentally, a way for you to make groups of your friend or acquiantances allowing you to later specify which of these "circles" you would like your content to reach. It's like Facebook groups, except that you don't have to have people accept an invitation to join. You simple drag and drop them into the circle of your choice and when you specify that group in your next post, members can see what you've posted. It's very simple and intuitive to find and add people to these various circles, and you can make as many as you want.
When it comes to your public timeline the layout is very much as you'd expect so is easy to understand right from the off. One thing to point out here is that each post and comment has a 1 button automatically added that you can click to " 1". However, this 1 button is slightly different to the one you see on websites and when clicked does not add the post to your public profile, but is used more like the Facebook "like" button for posts. Maybe a little differenciation would have been more benefit, or a different name and icon but as long as you understand the difference I can't see that being a problem.
I also absolutely love the image viewing and tagging tools, and the CSS3 animations (if you're using a webkit-based browser, they didn't work in Firefox 5) that flip images are really beautiful! It's this kind of interaction and enhancements that I really wanted to see from a massive new product. We have the tools built in to a lot of browsers these days so why not use them on a major scale! My hats off to Google for that!
Hangouts are quite possibly my favourite aspect of Google . Yes, you can video conference on so many other mediums, such as Skype. But the way Google does things once again goes that little step further. For example, you can have a seamless video chat with 10 or more people from one of your circles, and they have the ability to join in or leave the coversation at any time. I had no problem installing a little bit of software to get it all working and within seconds I was up and running and ready to play!
The most impressive and interactive part for me was the ability to watch YouTube videos with someone else. The video synced to both our computers and we watched the same bit at the same time. This meant that we could discuss certain points as they happened, or if one person rewound the video it would do the same for the other. Imagine how brilliant that could be for a video presentation! You simply invite your "work" or "corporate" circle in a Hangout, start the video and if they all have speakers and microphones can interact with you as you present. Or, even if they don't have the ability to speak through a microphone, there is a handy chat section on the left side of the window which can be used like messenger allowing everyone the ability to join in.
I personally think it's awesome. I certainly won't be ditching Facebook any time soon to live my life the Google way, I still find Facebook much better for friendship interaction about menial things. But from a business and acquiantance point of view, plus is brilliant. I can't wait to see what is next in store for the platform and hope it will continue to grow as other Google ventures have failed (Wave... Buzz!?). The only thing I don't want to see that has been rumoured is a games centre. I do not want to see Google defiled by constant Farmville posts thank you very much!