Despite a recent announcement from Google that their + social network had exceeded capacity, I was able to join the service through an email invite today (thank you, Josh). Sign up was ridiculously pain free and getting started with the actual business at hand was a no-brainer.
I’ve just begun with the service, but so far, I have a very positive impression. Most notably, even with a burgeoning little friends list, I’m already hooked. The presentation boasts an immediacy and simplicity that no Facebook simply can’t match. And no one has bothered to ask me to water a plant, told me how sexy their name is or tried to trick me with a trivia app…at least, not yet. WIthout ads and stupid gimmicks cluttering up the experience, Google+ is making a strong entry into the world of sharing and communication. Everyone and their grandmother uses Facebook, and this, in my estimation, is more welcoming and appealing.
The best elements–or at least concepts–of Wave and Buzz are present. But I have yet to see any of their many weaknesses burst forth to spoil the party. I’m creating circles with learning-curve-free animated interface and am sharing items with the circles that will be interested, which means there isn’t the undeniable need to “hide” people in my Stream, as is the case with Facebook. My mom (not actually a Google+ member) won’t want to know what ROM I just installed or what I think of it, but people in my Android circle might. By the way, users can’t see what circles they’ve been assigned to, so it’s up to the poster to be discerning in distributing his or her content. If someone gets out of line, simply block them with the drop-down menu on the right side of any post. You can also mute a certain entry if the (automatically collapsing) conversation never ends. For good posts, click the +1 icon.
Of course, Google wouldn’t be in the game without a Google+ Android app, and their offering represents a great start. Instant uploads of images and videos are stored for later sharing. Notifications (for mobile and desktop) are subtle and tapping them takes you right to the subject of the notification. Though, you might want to disable email notifications, which could be disabled by default or possibly disabled at a prompt during sign up. Checking in from locations is easy, too, and Google has made finding businesses as easy as flipping on the GPS or searching by name.
How the general public will respond to Google+ remains to be seen. But amongst Android and Google enthusiasts, membership is the hot new thing that everyone seems to be discussing. The rapid adding of friends, invites, and random conversations remind me of that first day that Google Wave came out of the gate. Except that the excitement and enthusiasm aren’t peppered with questions about what the heck this button does, or what on Earth am I going to use this for? Everybody already knows the answers to these questions because they’re self-evident within the first five or ten minutes of use. That is a good sign, indeed. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got some exploring and random posting to take care of.