Jul 19, 2011

Google+ on the Go

It's only been about three weeks since the new social networking application, Google+ launched.  So why another one and what does this have to do with what you can do with your iPhone or iPad?

First, let me answer the first question.  I've heard it said that Google+ is what would be born if Facebook and Twitter had a child. I'm not sure that's a fair description though, given it has features that are not even present in the other two but are incredibly powerful as social tools:
  1. Circles - These are a central concept in Google+.  Put simply, the are groups or categories that you put people in that allow you to share different thing with different people.  For example you might want to share Suzie's piano recital with your Friends circle but not with your Coworkers circle.  This is actually quite powerful.
  2. Streams - Stream are the feeds of posts from other Google+ users you put in your circles.  You can look at all of them at once mixed together or look at just the posts from users in a particular circle.
  3. Huddles - These are group chats that you can invite one or more people to, either individually or as an entire circle.  While Facebook has chat, it doesn't have it in this group form.
  4. Hangouts - This is a video chat version of Huddles in a sense.  You invite people or a whole circle of people to a hangout and they can come and go as they please.  Up to 10 can attend a circle.  Those invited see that you've started a hangout and can join if they want. Obviously you need a webcam for this one.
Now to your second question: What does this have to do with your iOS device?  Today a new Google+ app was added to the App Store. It gives you the ability to add people to Circles, look at your Streams (feeds of posts by people you have in your circles), post to one or more of your circles (optionally including your location), check in to places (much like Facebook and Foursquare), and even do huddles. It does everything I mentioned above except for Hangouts.

Huddles are especially useful when mobile for things like getting a group together for lunch, especially if your meeting them at the restaurant.  You start a huddle, name it "Lunch" (or whatever), invite the people you are eating with, and they can all join in and talk about where and when.  Your lunch buddies don't have to be in the Google+ app at the time you invite them. They'll receive an alert on the iPhone and be invited to the huddle to participate in the conversation.  Whereas text messages are useful for conversation with individuals, huddles are great for groups of people.

The app is free by the way, as is Google+.  Will Google+ take off and send Facebook the way of MySpace.  It's hard to say at this point.  There isn't a critical mass of people on it yet because Google doesn't have it completely open.  To get a Google+ account, you have to have a Gmail account (which you should have already if you don't) and you have to be invited by someone on the service. Do you want to try it but need an invitation.  Just email me at tlatkins@practicalistuff.com.  Are you using it already or do you regard it as "another social network I don't have time for"?  Answer in the comments.

1 comment:

  1. I posted a link to this article on Google+. Most of my personal posts are private but being able to occasionally post publicly, like I did in this case, I can't do on Twitter and Facebook, where it's all public or all private. That's pretty powerful.


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