• Fantastic chat features
• Simple and organized
• Fun to use
• Limited Customization
• Key features not built in
While Google Plus does a good job of separating itself from the rest with neat features, the missing of some key elements and it's low popularity keep it from competing with the likes of Facebook.
With the rise of Facebook and it's social networking dominance, Google decided to throw it's hat into the ring with Google Plus. Does it have enough to compete?
At first glance, the layout of your profile will look very familiar. You will see a big profile picture on the right side overlapping your cover photo and a list of your friends and their profile pictures organized in a bar on the right.
Google uses a simple tab method for showing information on your profile. Clicking on a tab instantly changes the information under your cover photo without reloading the web page. There are tabs for Posts, About, Photos, Videos, and “+1's”. The tabs are very useful because you know what you are looking at instead of just looking at a page of jumbled up information.
Google Plus let's you edit your profile by simply clicking “edit profile” and then clicking on what you want to change. Google Plus allows you to show almost all of the information you can think of on your profile. You can share information ranging from your name and birthday to your previous addresses pinned on a map.
Google Plus uses a system where you can add people to Circles. Adding people to Circles means you will see their posts on your stream on the homepage. By default, you have a circle for friends, family, acquaintances, and people you follow. This means you can add anybody you want, even celebrities and people you have never met to your circles, but it still encourages you to add friends and family.
The chat feature in Google Plus is fantastic. Your chat box containing a list of your friends is always fixed on the right side of the screen. The best part about the chat is you have the option to chat through message, voice, or video.
Google Plus also sports an Explore section where you can see random posts on trending topics around Google Plus. You can also search for any topics of your interest and find people you may be interested in following.
The most unique part of Google Plus has to be the Hangouts. Hangouts are video chat rooms where you can have up to 10 people chatting at the same time. In the Hangout, you can share YouTube videos, documents, and even show people what you're doing on your computer by sharing your desktop. You can also use Hangouts to broadcast live and record them to YouTube. This is by far the coolest and most useful feature Google Plus has to offer.
Another feature people will find useful is the ability to control which of your Circles' posts appears most on your main stream. For each of your Circles there is a slider that changes how much of that Circle will show up in your main stream. So if you put your friends slider all the way to the right, most of the posts on your main stream will be from friends.
While Google Plus has some nice features, there is also some lacking in Google Plus. For example, Google has it's own calender and events application on their main site, but this isn't at all built into Google Plus. Making users exit Google Plus and using a separate application for creating events complicates things for the casual user.
Google Groups is another missing feature. People will need to exit Google Plus entirely to create a group. It would be easier to be able to create an event or group on the spot and add/invite people from your circles instantly.
Security & privacy
Google Plus gives you the ability to change what information you share with certain Circles or people. It's as simple as clicking the edit button and then clicking exactly what don't want to share and changing the privacy setting. You can limit information to just your friends, family, or even yourself. Anything you don't want viewable to the public can be hidden with Google Plus.
There is also button on your profile screen that allows you to see exactly what certain people see when the are looking at your profile, which is great for making sure you got the settings right.
Google Plus gives you tons of options for finding friends, family, and people to follow. It has the basics like searching by name or email, but it also gives you the option of finding people by school or even workplace.
Finding trending topics or posts on topics of your interests is also extremely easy. The Explore section of Google Plus allows you to search for anything you want.
Ease of use
Google Plus is extremely easy to use and newcomers should have no problems finding what they are looking for. Editing your profile couldn't be any simpler. Also, posting photos, videos, or links is extremely simple.
Help & support
Google Plus provides extensive “How-to” articles and even gives you the option of reporting problems or troubleshooting a problem with a Hangout.
Google Plus has the look, feel, and features you want in your social networking site, but there are key elements missing to sway users from sites like Facebook. Google Plus is young, and the more users and support it gets, the more it will improve. It has the potential to one day be an extremely popular social networking option.
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