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Google+ Demo (google.com)
279 points by cskau on June 28, 2011 | hide | past | web | favorite | 76 comments



I'm really looking forward to trying this out, and here's why:

With Facebook, I felt as if I was on this huge football field with all of my 'friends.' I could lean in to whisper with a friend here and there, or even put on some face paint and huddle together with like-faced friends to form a group. But everyone could still see me, and I could see them – I just had to peer down the field. I can't really say things to my group that I'd normally say in private because with all these people on the field with me, someone would certainly overhear us!

With Google+ the structure is different. Rather than a field, it's more like a big building with many rooms. Each room can be decorated and tailored to a specific group of friends who hang out there. Best part is once I'm in the room, I can close the door and be myself! I can go up two levels, change hats, and walk into a different room.

tl;dr Google+ lets me fully engage my various social sides, whereas Facebook never really let you as you were always in the eye of the public.

Edit: One thing I did notice that I wish they would change is that it seems as if a friend can only be placed into one circle. Often times there's a lot of overlap among my social circles and friends may be part of at least two different groups.


I'm testing Google+ as we speak. I can confirm that you can add people to several circles. However, I haven't yet been able to test how people in those circles see an item that you share.

As far as I've understood, Circles are your personal aliases for groups of people and they are not visible to other people. This is really useful in certain situations, but it can also create some confusion when people are commenting and discussing about your photo, as they don't have clear visibility who else is seeing the photo and their comments.


Okay, tested also how Circle is visible to a receiver. It seems to be like I explained above, i.e. Circle is your private alias for a group of people.

The receiver account was not part of Google+ so things might work differently when sharing between Google+ users. The photo just shows Visibility: "Limited", no visibility who else is seeing the photo.


If you click or hover over the `Limited` then you can see who it's shared with.

disclosure: I work for Google, but not on Google+


It doesn't show them for non-Google+ users, but I assume that Google thought it's a marginal use case in the long run ;-)


I feel like this could be a real selling point. Different relationships call for different social etiquette, but Facebook only has "friendship" with some really shoddy support for grouping friends. It's not even about being deceptive or ashamed of yourself, any more than you're deceiving your boss by not smoking in the office and speaking more respectfully than you would to your drinking buddies.


It is possible to do what you are trying to do (Say things to a private group) on facebook even today but I don't know why they have made it so hard to use. I literally had to spend 15 minutes figuring it out and spend time to configure it.

But even with all that I am fairly confident that Google+ will fail to take off just like many of Google products lately. All they have introduced is a small set of features that facebook lacks. FB can add those in a matter of few months and then take out the whole reason for users to switch. Social networks are very very sticky.


"Social networks are very very sticky."

I have to disagree with this. Remember Friendster and MySpace?


well they are not as sticky as a super glue may be like a gluestick :) What I meant is that by virtue of being sticky, it gives FB enough time to attain feature parity with google+ thereby removing a reason for me to switch. Unlike a search engine where the stickiness is just a habit.


Not only is it painful to configure, but it only works with their desktop Web client. Mobile phone users can talk to everybody or nobody.


If they feel threatened enough by Circles, I have no doubt that they will make it more visible, and available on all platforms.

That said, it's surprising how few people, even tech savvy ones seem to know about the functionality even though it's been around for ages. In fact, FB used to have a "how do you know this person" question when you added a friend, and they confirmed the relationship when they accepted, which is gone. It could be that they believe that most users don't want to segment their friends by categorizing them.


The iPhone client handles groups to an extent. You can pick one group to see a status update, but can't pick multiple groups, exclusions or custom on-the-fly groups


true. apparently windows phone has a concept of groups too but then that does not sync with the lists that you have on facebook.


FB can add those in a matter of few months

I wouldn't assume that it's so easy for Facebook to make fundamental changes to their friend system. It's woven into every other part of the site. The whole visibility thing would probably be a nightmare to implement.


Not only would it actually be challenging, but more likely than not Facebook would actually get hate for breaking the Facebook, just like every other time they've implemented any change more visible than an extra link somewhere.


Add all your friends to a "friends" circle by default, and make that circle the default audience for all posts.

Extra feature - no breakage.


FWIW, Diaspora has had "aspects" from very early on in its development.


I've checked and you can add a contact to as many circles as you want.


¿Anyone can send me an invitation? :D


There are several reasons I am hopeful for this.

1. It looks CLEAN While in my opinion one major reason Facebook ended up beating out Myspace was its wonderful interface, I feel like recent renditions have just lost that simplicity. I want connecting with my friends to be simple, not a bombardment of Farmville updates and a poorly designed messaging system.

2. Sparks Hopefully Google will succeed where Facebook has failed in actually making keeping track of your interests, well...interesting.

3. Circles Friend management in Facebook has always been one of my biggest complaints, Circles seems to be a legitimate approach to making organizing your friends a little bit more intuitive.

I am very excited to see Google+ roll out to the masses, and I do hope it is successful. Not because I want it to take Facebook down, but I think it wouldn't hurt to make them break a little sweat and think about their users a bit more.


Circles is awesome. I can't believe Facebook hasn't done it yet. Hopefully you can drop friends into more than one circle.

As far as Huddle goes, I hope it's easy to go from a normal text straight into a Huddle. Also, typing status is very helpful in a chat room to avoid the inevitable conflicts that occur when people happen to type responses at the same time.

Sparks looks somewhat like Google News filtering. I'm not sure if I'll use it if that's all it ends up being.

Hangouts could be interesting, but because it's many-many communication like Huddle, the conversation flow could be difficult to maintain. I hope it works out.


Based on the demo you can only put friends in one circle, but I hope that's going to change or just isn't properly reflected in the demo; I have plenty of people I would consider to be in multiple circles. The easiest example of which is a "co-worker" who is also a "friend".


Oddly enough, I hope this maps to the gmail groups concept, since I already have people mapping along those lines in there, and winds into my android device as well.

Google seems to run into the large corporation octopus issue where knowing what the left and right hands are doing is a difficult task.


> Hopefully you can drop friends into more than one circle.

I noticed this too in the demo, I have to believe you'll be able to.


For anyone who comes back across this, yes you can put people in an infinite number of circles.


You can put people in as many circles as you want.


I'm sure you can put people in more than one circle. Mostly because huddle seems to be based off of circles. While not being able to put people into multiple circles would be inconvenient, not being able to put people into multiple "huddles" would just break the whole feature for most people.

EDIT: Made it a little bit more clear


A little tangent here, but does anyone else find it increasingly difficult to manage multiple sessions on the Google platform?

I keep having difficulty not knowing which google account I'm logged into, having issues enabling/disabling features before I have access to a feature X and then, I find out feature X is not available with google apps hosted account; but it's available with my gmail account.

There really isn't a solution other than using chrome, incognito window and n browsers per google account. I sure it's a minority of the google user base having this issue, or I'm sure it would be dealt with. Anyone else experience this, and have a solution? I'm just short of abandoning data in all my accounts but one, and moving everything over to it (and forward emails).


Go here, accept the conditions https://www.google.com/accounts/MultipleSessions

On the right top menu, Switch Accounts, sign in to second account, (may need to accept conditions again). At this point, you will be able to switch back and forth, between the two accounts


I've done that and have been using it - it has many limitations but it's a small step in the right direction.


>I sure it's a minority of the google user base having this issue, or I'm sure it would be dealt with.

/ Presumably it's better for Google to have you use one account and hold your real identity there converging all your work and social online aspects in the same place. I see it as broken for the user but better for Google as it pushes users towards single accounts and real identity.


This is a huge pain in the ass. I have a GMail account I use for mailing lists, a hosted Apps account I use for work and my personal email is also on a hosted Apps account. It's impossible to keep them straight - the only thing that saves my sanity is Mailplane.

This is all combined with the fact that my personal Apps account appears to be half-migrated, and I see different documents in Google Docs depending on how I log into that account. It's insane.


This is the exact same setup I have; two hosted accounts and one gmail account. I had conflicting accounts with gmail + my hosted apps account, and merged them which created a bunch of issues (I was warned, I suppose)

I don't know if the personal choice of how we use our accounts is abnormal, but the resulting effect is definitely not something desirable.


Firefox = Primary, Chrome=Secondary, IE9=test. Generally works OK. Still a bit painful though. Especially now that Apps/gmail are consolidated.


Separate browsers, or separate profiles (namely Firefox profiles).

An app-specific browser like MozillaPrizm/Fluid/etc might be your best bet, just create specific apps for each user/session.

btw, I generally use 2 google profiles (google-apps vs. google) and they coexist in one browser for me.

The concept of fluid multi-identity in any device or OS has long been difficult to manage, and I don't think it's done well on any UI-based system.


'Switch account' works well for me - is there a use case where this is not an option for you?


Yeah, "Switch account > Sign into another account" actually works, but it took me a long time to find it.


Google Chrome dev has support for multiple account profiles. Each account has it's own windows with their own cookies/exts/apps/history.


This looks to me like Don't Be Evil showing up as a competitive advantage. Facebook seems want my data and my network for its own exploitation; Google seems to actually be thinking about what's best for me.


Facebook makes advertising money through user profiling and only from within their site. Google makes advertising money just from the fact that you're using the web. Google is able to do more though profiling, but they have the flexibility and hindsight to do it less intrusively. Remember, Google's properties are more spread out than Facebook's (and AdSense is almost everywhere). So with Google you don't even have to be logged in for them to advertise to you.


"seems"

Let the market[er]ing continue.


I think one of main Google problem is Brand Fatigue, people are tired of Google this and Google that. Why not call it friend something or give it a generic name like Baboo, Facebook or something fresh that will give the impression that it is something new.


Had Google called it friend something, at least I won't have bothered. The only reason I am looking at it is because of brand Google. Granted that Google would have called it something else and I would have still used it, but that would be only because it's Google. Majority of people I know don't have Google brand fatigue - they love brand Google.



I'd be happer if they'd just stick to search and ads and drop all the social networking bullshit.


Like Orkut?


That's the best web demo I've ever seen. I'm a jaded person, but I clicked on all the things and did all the stuff and felt pride at using their (impressively easy) interface. Serious unexpected design chops from Google!


Honestly, I'd be open to trying this JUST for the circles. Too many times I've had to restrain myself from posting certain things because of the wide range of "friends" I have on facebook.


Really well done, interactive demo.


Extremely well done. I didn't bother reading about all the features, but the demo made me go through all of it. I'm now excited about instant photos. Success, google.

I liked the huddle text input, you don't choose what gets written... pogo boots vanilla beetroots?


I got an opposite reaction... Seems like whenever I opened that page, the only thing I could was drag things around, Google Maps style. And I really wasn't sure what to do next, took me a while to find the "Take the tour" button.

From the tour itself, a lot of things take more than the whole screen, so scrolling is required. Could be that I'm looking at it on a 13' Macbook though.

And as far as features itself, I honestly couldn't get excited about any of them. "Hang out - quickest thing until teleportation is invented"? If I want to talk to friends I actually hang out with, I will call/text - for everyone else, there's Facebook/Email. Sparks - so the only purpose of this is for them to send me relevant ads? How nice. Even Facebook is not that blatant.

The only feature I'm kind of excited about is 'Huddle'. It's very difficult to pull of correctly and even MORE difficult (almost impossible) to get all your friends to use it. If they can do that correctly, I'll start using this ASAP.

Overall - can't say I was too excited by this demo, but I'll give it a try once it goes live.


I adamantly insisted through the whole Facebook is a Google killer period, that when Google decides and turns its eye towards FB's turf - they won't be able to compete. For two simple reasons:

1. Google has more of everything. 2. When Google commits to something they don't give up after a failed attempt. They learn and come back meaner and badder.

What I like about this service is that it offers (not in beta mind you) actual value as it seems. And I mean that in a productivity sense, not just vanity shots and addictive "click like an automaton" games.

I believe that it is time for someone to hire me as a strategist.


Flash instead of HTML5.......


Just this "demo". Makes sense considering some of the animation and interactivity they have on the small windows. I doubt the actual product uses Flash for anything other than, maybe, sound and video (as does GMail/YouTube/etc).


I'm guessing they wanted animation AND didn't want to exclude a huge percentage of viewers


If the desktop/flagship UI all flash, then they are working on an Android app as well?


Same thought too, but I think there must be a good reason for that. Maybe achieving same interactivity with html5 is just too much work yet.


Can't put 1 friend into 2 circles? Great job on simplifying my social life..


I just tried this out. Yes I can add people to more than 1 circle easily.


You can put people into as many circles as you want.


I doubt that's how the circles will work in final. Google uses labels much more than folders for classifying stuff (e.g. gmail).


This is great. The circle groups and the group chat is awesome. But I'm wondering how many groups you'd be able to create (would there be a limit?) and how the center stage of group chat works? It said in demo that the person talking or the loudest would be center but what if 3+ people hit the same volume level, or if like tinychat, there are multiple people talking? Would love to get a reply from someone in Google+ beta.


I'm specially interested in the potential of a developer API for this new Google Sparks. Since users explicitly list their interests. If google let's developers access user's interest graph with AppEngine. Then we can do some really really cool customized user experience with it.

My brain is going crazy with ideas after reading about this. Just imagine the possibilities... hmmmmm :)


Yesss, finally I'll be able to get off Facebook! Even though I use Facebook lists, circles seems a lot simpler and functional. For me, photos, and comments and discussions generated off photos is really important, so I need a social network that my friends are also on. The only other service that all my friends share is GMail, so this is really great.


The "Keep Me Posted" button brings me to

https://www.google.com/intl/en-GB/+/learnmore/notifyme.html

which is a 404. I had to manually delete "-GB" to get a 200.


It worked for me after coming back a minute later, perhaps they had a transient fault.


Whatever can make them close down Orkut faster, I'm down.


Tried to add myself to the waitlist, and got a 500 server error. When the waitlist fails, it doesn't inspire confidence.


Bad sign:

> 404. That’s an error.

> The requested URL /intl/en-GB/+/learnmore/notifyme.html was not found on this server. That’s all we know.


Very slick use of Google Maps underlying tech, it looks like. Similar to Prezi, too.


this is very nice, although seems to be overlapping with couple of independent offerings. to me, for example, sparks == instapaper, instant-upload == path/color etc.


The functionality feels really similar to Prezi.


Loved the hangout feature. Really!


Good luck. When my grandma joins I'll take a look. She's on Facebook. ;)


Hah, I had the opposite reaction. Finally a social network where I don't have to accept friend requests from my relatives =)


And even if you do accept them, it should be much more convenient and less awkward. That's what I'm looking forward to. I still want to keep up with my family but they don't care about machine learning and don't need to know everything that I'm doing with my friends. Circles sounds great for all of that.




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