A+ for Google Plus: My Overdue Review [Features]

Google+ (Plus) is a project started by the developers at Google, designed to make web browsing easier and more dynamic for its users. It links social networking, online file storage and email along with other interesting features.

I’ve recenty been using it and must say that I’m very impressed. Google has finally got it right.  Here’s a brief overview of the project to help explain the different components that make up Google+ and why I find it impressive.

Social Networking: Connectivity

Let’s start with the social networking feature. The most important aspect of social networking is connectivity; much like Twitter, Google+ allows you to connect with people through the concept of ‘following.’ This allows you to see public posts made by a person, without them having to authorise it. You are notified whenever someone follows you and you can reciprocate the action if you wish.

Circles

When you choose to follow someone, you are asked to add them to a ‘circle’ or category. You can view each circle’s feed separately, allowing you to view the posts of your close friends independently from those you consider to be merely acquaintances. When posting yourself, you can choose to make a post public, allowing everyone who follows you to see it, or make it available only to those in certain circles, thus maintaining a level of privacy.

Chat

When using the chat feature on Google+, it is also possible to filter contacts using the ”Circles” method, thus allowing you to be contacted only by people in the circles you choose to appear online to. Although this feature is available on other sites, the fact that it is done automatically saves the user a lot of time and effort.

Profiles

Profiles on Google+ are clean and concise; the user can include all necessary information such as a small biography, location, occupation etc. This is fairly standard on social networking sites; however, the user can also add links to other social networking profiles, YouTube accounts, blogs and personal websites. These links all appear neatly in a column at the side of a profile and allow visitors to easily access all other content published by the user on the internet.

Photo Uploading

When uploading photos to Google+, they are uploaded directly to Picasa, Google’s online web album. It is possible to upload an unlimited amount of photos simultaneously, making the process both quick and easy to complete. The picture viewer on Google+ is slick and it is possible to view photos added recently by all of your contacts, or by those in a specific circle, all in one slideshow if you wish.

Document Uploading

Google+ users can also upload documents to their account. Presentations, spreadsheets etc. can be stored online and accessed anywhere. This is very useful, as it eliminates the need to carry sometimes unreliable pieces of hardware; such as USB sticks. As long as you can access the internet, you have all of your work to hand.

Sparks

Perhaps the most interesting feature of Google+ is the ‘sparks’ section. Here you can tag items that interest you, such as a sports team or a favourite genre of music. When you click on these tags, not only will you be shown posts made by contacts regarding these topics, you will also receive related content from all over the internet: YouTube videos, blog posts etc. This enables the user to discover web content specifically tailored to their tastes.

Other Features: Google Product Integration

Other features of Google+ are the calendar, where you can add important reminders and appointments; Gmail, Google’s email service; and Google reader, where you can view RSS feeds from all of your favourite blogs / websites. All of which can be accessed easily and without the need to log in to separate accounts.

Summary

Google+ holds much promise and has the potential to become the hub of the internet for both casual and business users alike. Its ease of use and abundance of features will no doubt attract many people as will its online file storage capabilities. Google+ looks set to change the way we use the internet for the better.

Have you used Google+?  What are your thoughts?  Share below…

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Omar Kattan is Chief Strategy Officer at Sandstorm Digital, the MENA region's first specialist content marketing agency headquartered in Dubai. His experience includes 10 years in traditional marketing and advertising in the Middle East and a further 10 years at two of the largest media agencies in the UK. Follow Omar on Twitter for updates on the latest in digital, branding, advertising and marketing.

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