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Does Google + add up?

by Richard Wilson Senior Developer

 Posted on August 20, 2011

The number of users the site has gained, in less than 2 months, would seem to suggest it does. The figure of 25 million makes it one of the fastest growing websites in history and it certainly seems to be scoring top marks for the hype it's created within the digital world.

For those who've missed all the build up, Google+ Project is Google's new social networking site incorporating some of the key features of Twitter, Facebook and Skype. Access has been restricted to a limited group, as it's still in the field trial stage (or Beta) with the official public release date yet been announced.

But does it add anything that we don't already have, as its name suggests? We've done our own maths by comparing it to Facebook and here's how it scored:-

UX (User Experience)
Google+ is clean, slick and easy to use just like the rest of Google's products. But we wouldn't say that Facebook is particularly hard to use either and we suspect its 750 million users would agree with us!

So we score this Google+ 1 Facebook 1

Circles/ Groups
Using the neat drag and drop functionality, users of Google+ can organise their friends easily into appropriate social circles. The use of circles should minimise the noise in your stream and allow you to keep business and pleasure separate if you choose to. However, we think by organising our friends in this way we might miss some of the randomness of Facebook, such as the daily gaffes of someone you barely knew at school to remind you someone else is having a worse day than you are!

Many users have already stated that Google+ is the easiest system for organising friends into groups and we would have to concur... It certainly is a cut above Facebook friends or twitter lists. We also think people will really like the animations in Google+ when you perform these actions as it gives the site some real character.

Points are allocated accordingly..... Google+ 1 Facebook 0

Hangouts
This is a really cool feature of Google+ which allows 10 people to simultaneously video chat. But no sooner had this feature been released and a week later Facebook came back with its own reply, Skype calling.

Facebook has a group messaging chat for up to 20 people at a time, although its video chat is only 1 to 1. But, call us old fashioned, 10 people on video chat might be a bit chaotic at times! Some users have reported that Hangouts is pretty poor for 1 to 1 interaction so Google might want to fix this to be able to compete with Facebook's Skype service.

It's a close call but we score this Google+ 0 Facebook 1

Sparks
Google+ has a recommendation tool which looks for videos and articles that it thinks you'll like. Facebook doesn't have anything like this at present.

Simple - Google+ 1 Facebook 0

Accessibility
Google + allows you to get notifications, comment and interact with circles without leaving Gmail or other Google sites. You can broadcast anything you find interesting to your social network with a single click, right from the search results or from within Gmail.

On the one hand, this is impressive. But on the other, we're not sure we're comfortable with this attempt to take over all our web services, in the same way we felt nervous about News Corporation taking over BSkyB and we all know how that turned out.

So for this reason, the score is Google+ 0 Facebook 1

The final result is Google 3 Facebook 3.

Google+ has better control over who you share your information with and integrates well with other Google sites. It's also added a couple of funky new features, which has got people talking, in the form of Hangouts and Sparks but there is nothing revolutionary here, yet. We don't think 750 million users of Facebook will find this enough of an incentive to switch and keeping track of more than one network isn't something most internet users will want to do. In the same way that Hotmail responded quickly to the limitations that Gmail was meant to overcome and remains the world's largest free email service,we expect Facebook will have a few more tricks up it's sleeve to prevent users from switching.

However, they have called it Google+ project for a reason, as it's still being developed and the probability is that there are some more exciting things to come soon.

 


About the Author

author

Rich joined our development team back in 2008 and leads and manages all maintenance and development of our clients bespoke .NET web application system and mobile Apps for The Live Group.  Known affectionately as "Willow" in the office, Rich has a passion for all things digital and web and loves trying out new systems and frameworks. When he's not in the office he can be found on Southsea common, enjoying a refreshing Cider or generally enjoying most sports including Pompey. 

 


Tags
  • Google+
  • Facebook
  • Social Strategy