Google Plus Might Stand A Chance

I had almost given up on Google Plus. I felt like they put out a superbly better social networking application than Facebook, but it didn't matter. I don't know a single person outside of my tech circle that has even considered switching over to G+. People like my wife have a hard time making paradigm shifts. The concept that anyone can just drag you into their circle without your permission doesn't make sense to them. Adding a friend on Facebook is like shaking someone's hand in real life; it's a formal acknowledgement of the new relationship. G+ is more like Twitter and Facebook put together in that regard. People like me know that having strangers add you to their circles is harmless because they will only see things you've explicitly posted to the public, but it's hard to get that message across.

When G+ was first revealed I was completely ready to make the switch. I prepped my photo albums and was ready to rediscover all my friends. It turned out that many naysayers were right and few other people outside of the tech world would make the switch. Facebook was "good enough" and wasn't sending people on the hunt for alternatives like Myspace was back in the day. As time began to pass I worried more and more for the future of Google Plus. I didn't want it to fail because I could see the potential. I was ready to quit for good and just stick to Facebook when they decided to completely rework their user interface.

Google Plus may actually stand a chance of success with how intuitive this new interface is. The website is now right in line with the simplicity of the G+ smart phone app. There are always improvements to be made but I'm already pretty sold on the new interface. Plenty of white space so you don't suffocate while browsing and an intuitive list of features down the left side.

The interface is immediately intuitive. You can find anything you need in only a few clicks. This is a far cry from the confusing place it was not too long ago. Until now I didn't even realize how crappy the interface was. Compared to what it is now it's night and day difference. I can see G+ being a productive tool for me to stay connected with people in all parts of my life. Keeping people in circles is now much simpler and more accessible so I am able to intuitively manage the different types of relationships I have. When I post a sketchy but hilarious demotivational poster I can show my friends and family without having to worry about my boss seeing it. On Facebook I simply never let any coworkers be my friend, but now I can sequester them away into their own little circle so that when I post some amazing bit of code I can tack them on so they can see it. These are all things that already existed in Google Plus but I'm rediscovering them now that this new interface is out.

The new Google Plus feels more like an app than a web page and that is a very good thing! In fact, if you look closely at my above screenshot you'll notice that I'm using the Google Chrome "application shortcut" feature. Simply go to the tools menu in Chrome and select "Create application shortcuts..." while viewing the Google Plus home page. This gives you the option to put shortcut icons on your desktop, start menu, or pinned to your taskbar. Now all I do is click the G+ icon on my taskbar and the app you see in my screenshot opens.

It's a very streamlined experience. So streamlined in fact that I now leave that app open all day and I use it as my primary Google Talk client. My only complaint there is that youtube links don't show in a little embedded player in Google Talk on G+ like it does in Google Talk in Gmail (no idea why they are different in that regard). Nevertheless I think it makes more sense to keep my instant message client as part of my all-inclusive social networking app than to tack it onto the side of my email.

I will for sure be using a lot more of Google Plus in the near future because of this. To top that off they finally added landscape mode to the status update field on the G+ app for iPhone; for the longest time I had to type status updates with that silly portrait mode keyboard that my fat fingers can barely use. Only thing left to do now is integrate Google Talk, Google Plus Messenger, and Google Voice into a single unified service of awesome and then Google will have a very tight grip on me. I highly recommend you give the new Google Plus a try! After you do, take a minute to give you opinion in the comments; I'm curious what you guys think.

Chev

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