Here's my round up of Google +. There's a lot of posts out there already so this is straight to the point. And when you read each point, ask yourself, why would I do it on Google+ if I'm doing it elsewhere? Just saying.
Stream: A means of seeing what your connections/circles are posting right now on Google+.Share photos, videos, links and your location.
- The best thing is that when you publish something you can choose which people or circles see it.
- The worst thing is you can only share it to Google+, none of your other social networks.
Photos: So you can see photos uploaded from your circles. You can flick through them as a single stream or you can select an album or person from your circle.
- The best thing is when you publish photos you can choose which people or circles see them.
- The worst thing is the inability to simulcast with your other photo publishing tools.
Profile: Platform to access and edit your activity across Google+ as well as your visible profile.
- The best thing is the +1s feature which allows you to see all the posts you've ever +1'd on the web.
- The worst thing is you can't see your circles by groups, just a list of the people across them all.
Circles: The framework in which you structure your connections on Google+. You decided which people go in which circle, allowing you to publish selectively.
- The best thing about circles is the ability to control and design what content your connections see. This has been talked about for ages and FB attempted to tackle it with Groups/Lists. Since Google+ is built on circles you benefit from its advantages right from the word go. People posting too often? Put them in their own 'nosy circle'. It is a brilliant piece of architecture and we've been waiting for something like this.
- The worst thing is it would simply be quicker if I could access the circle feeds in one click (as opposed to two).
Hangouts : Allows you to connect with (multiple) people in your circles.
- The best thing is its ease of use and the ability to connect with up to 10 people at any given time. What you then all do together is uncertain.
- The worst thing is you can only hangout with people on Google+.
Sparks: A feed of things which interest you.
- The best thing - I really don't know. It feels like beta.
- The worst thing is the search results surprisingly, which makes you feel Google has limited the output. Unusual for a search giant.
Ok, lets get down to business. Currently people are happily utilising a plethroa of social networking tools.These tools do not work in isolation, in fact, quite the opposite. They have blossomed because their framework allows its most important asset (the user) the choice of sharing and simulcasting seemlessly. In other words, I am the architect of my social tower, and I'm happier when my rooms have doors through to the other. Now if somebody else wants to design my social tower for me, with rooms they've chosen, and doors they've positioned and wallpaper they prefer, I'm only left with the option of which furniture I put in it. And so Google +, you may have lined the walls with some very attractive wallpaper, but fundamentally, I'm being told which rooms to have, and critically, my old rooms appear to be out of bounds. At least for now.
This is an incredibly bold move (especially after Buzz) because unlike every other successful social platform, this is instructive, restrictive and serves to sabotage the web's biggest treasure: CHOICE. If Google + is to become mainstream, which it may very well do, it will need to let its users incorporate their preferred tools. The question I suppose is then, if Google+ lets you incorporate other social tools, like Twitter and Skype, what purpose does it serve? And I'm afraid I don't have an answer for that. It does suggest that while Google+ offers improved functionality for social networkers, it has yet to create something new.
To conclude, Google+ has currently positioned itself as an alternative to all your other social networks and tools. But they forgot, again, that we prefer to chose the information we share, how we share it, and where we share it. And until they concede to this I really cannot see Google+ going much further than marketing industry folk, which is not a great proposition for advertisers.