For the last few days, I have been trying out brand new social networking site from Google: Google+. This is a very promising start from Google. The user-interface looks clean and well designed. It is easy to friend people by adding them to one of the circles. A circle is a category – like a family, friend, colleague etc. You can create circles with your naming schemes. A circle is exactly what makes Google+ stand apart from the closest thing to it in the social networking world – Facebook. You can watch the feeds from different circles one at a time or all of them together. You can also choose to share updates/photos/videos with only one or few of the circles.
One thing I did not like immediately is Google+’s integration of Picasa photos into Plus with viewing rights granted to all my circles. I did not know that everyone had viewing rights until one of them asked me if I managed to load so many photos within minutes of opening my plus account. Nevertheless, I like the idea of being able to share the photos with only some of the circles. I also like the fact that it is easy to drag and drop friends photos etc. Like I said earlier, the UI is smooth, clean, and modern.
On the flip side, I am a sophisticated technology user who can find his way around the web, but I have to wonder whether a novice user of technology will find the idea of circles too hard to use.
I will not go as far as to say that Google+ is a Facebook killer. I do not think there is anything radically differentiating about Google+ that is impossible for Facebook to respond to quickly. The concept of putting your friends into groups/buckets is not that hard to build on the Facebook platform. There have been numerous examples in the past, including the most recent “super awesome” video chat. Other such features, to refresh your memory, include features like status updates (Twitter), places & checkins (Foursquare), deals (Groupon), video chat (Google). Facebook’s cozy relationship with Microsoft will help them acquire any features that require major back infrastructure development without having to go through the pain of starting from scratch.
Good news is, this will keep Facebook on its toes, will force them not to rest on their past laurels. I don’t see any reason why Google+ gives everyone a big reason to switch to a platform when their roots are, probably, running deep into the fertile soil of Facebook. It will be an interesting battle to watch.