I’ve been giving Google+ a tentative whirl this week (check out the demo). The network, Google’s answer to Facebook, is currently in beta field testing by invite only. But today an invite option popped up on my account, so I’ve been sending out invites to colleagues and friends. (I seem to notice a lot more users and connections online today, so I wonder if more of us are acquiring invite ability or I'm simply imagining things - I didn't have time to verify which before this post!)
There’s much to explore. I haven’t had a chance to try out the video chat options yet (such as a group video chat in a “Hangout”). Or even initiated a group text chat (aka a “Huddle”).
But I have followed a few “Sparks” (topic threads and content focused on a specific area of interest you specify – such as “cooking” or “Android”). And I’ve set up additional groups of friends and new connections (via “Circles”). I admit I really prefer the Circle concept to the lists option on Facebook. Maybe I’m just a visual person, but so far groups of contacts I’ve classified into, well, circles, just seem easier to manage in both posts and in my head.
It's the Little Things
I’ve been doing the basic stuff - I uploaded and posted content, shared others’ posts. I’ve “plus-one-ed” (sp?) others’ posts (the equivalent of “liking” on Facebook). I’ve found some great contacts in the public posts, too. I’ve discovered more friends and colleagues through others’ circles. Every day I’ve picked up a few extra things when I have a few moments to poke around. For example:
Want that vanity URL for your G+ profile? Accounts are identified with numbers, rather than names/titles, so Mashable shared this little gem that lets you create your own (mine is gplus.to/shaunamanda for example).
And here’s a tiny little thing that makes life easier:
If you would like to direct a post or a comment to someone in particular – mentioning them in a way that your comment will show up in their notifications (the equivalent of mentioning a user ID on Twitter) – type the plus symbol (+) before you start typing their name. Similar to auto-fill in your email, a window will pop up giving you options of users from your G+ circles. Once you choose someone from the list, their name drops nicely into your post and they’ll get a notification someone has mentioned them (provided, of course, notifications are turned on in their account settings).
Face to Face
I am looking forward to trying out the video capabilities, especially with Facebook’s launch of video chat yesterday, June 7. I tried that out with limited success. A colleague could not even get the software to load for us to test it, but my brother and I had an interesting conversation in which I could see him but not hear him, and he could hear me but not see me. He had to keep telling me to stop typing into FB chat since he could hear me speaking – he could even hear me typing. But he had to converse through the text chat on his end since I could not hear him. (We’re still working on it).
I have to wonder how quickly G+ invites will roll out now that Facebook has launched video chat (when they’ve seemed so restricted).
Either way, the next months should be interesting, as G+ and FB both vie for our collective attention.
(Side note: Facebook is rolling out video chat capability over the next several days/few weeks. But you can go ahead and choose to add the functionality early by going here and choosing the “get started” button)
(Shaun Amanda Herrmann)