Are you in the Google+ circle?

Published: July 1, 2011

Google has decided to take on the giants of the social networking world with its latest invention, Google+.

The current times might be a watershed moment in the social media world, not just in Pakistan but all around the globe. The company that may or may not cause this revolution is Google.

In the past, Google has eliminated whatever competition came in its path of it’s search engine to the extent that “Google it” has replaced “search for it” in our vocabulary. It did the same when it integrated photos via Picasa and documents via Google Docs.

It has however not been able to make a place for itself in the social networking world but then the company’s only attempt was the half-baked Google Buzz. Now, Google has decided to take on the giants with its latest project Google+, a complete social networking stream and site, the likes of which we have never seen before.

Although it is closed for the general public right now, I received an invitation to check out its Beta version.

So, what is the difference between Google+ and Facebook? I think we can limit this down to three broad areas:

1. Google+ Hands on and Circles

The basic content stream may look Facebook-ish, but the approach is entirely different under the hood. First of all, instead of categories among friends we have ‘circles.’ You can add and subtract your contacts to these circles.

What is really cool is how you can target different circles and share different content streams with them without going crazy with privacy settings ala Facebook. For instance you can say “I hate you all” in a status update and share it with a circle called ‘losers’ – very streamlined.

The ‘like’ button has been replaced by the ‘plus one’ button and there is a separate box aggregating this in your profile as a ‘brag it’ badge.You can add the usual pictures, videos and all that jazz to any content stream and they show up in a much wider space as well – so less scrolling, more ogling.

2. Hangout

Not being satisfied with taking Facebook on, the brains behind G+ have thrown a challenge at Skype as well.

This feature is not available everywhere in Pakistan at the moment (do we have to wonder why?) but will involve your name showing as online and ready to “hang” if allowed. Through this an audio/video conference can be initiated between the parties. Don’t ask me how I tested this but I found it very fast and streamlined.

The feature also offers YouTube integration, letting users collaboratively watch videos and create running commentaries in the chat, or verbally using the new Google Voice Search technology. Imagine live cricket match replays on it – with all of your friends.

3. Huddle

To me, the best feature of the new G+ social network is its ability to cross platform chat. Yes, Facebook has its chat but then that’s just plain annoying and this module is very similar to Gtalk and even faster in its mobile version which is available in the G+ app for android. So, as soon as it’s available for Nokia, Blackberry and iPhone, we can say “bye bye” to Whatsapp and that cave to cave… umm… Blackberry to Blackberry network known as BBM.

Will Google+ destroy Facebook and Skype?

No, but I believe it has the capability to do so. What remains to be seen is how Google is going to secure this network, because that’s one of the snags Facebook has run into, such as accounts being hacked or there being no end to security vulnerabilities in third party applications.

Will it remain invite only?

Fat chance of that if Google wants to dent the competition. What will be needed in the long-run though, is an “all in one dashboard” because users, even social media geeks, will get tired of maintaining so many different profiles. Google+, by integrating search, Gmail, Google documents, Google Maps and its own social stream has the firepower to provide us with that one stop solution.

What local users think:

There were many different reactions from the first users of G+ in Pakistan’s social media, some of which are given below.

Sohail Anjum -

Still trying to work my head around it and come to terms with it.

Shoaib Taimur -

I like the idea of Google Plus though it seems a bit barren at the moment. I would love for Google to open this trial for everyone. Overall it’s not confusing as Google Wave, though it ain’t a Facebook killer.

Hasan Nizamani -

A good attempt of Google, with some good features and idea. But a bit too late as most of the features are already in other social networking services, so people will get tired of G+ soon. After all we’re updating status, +1 (liking) them and commenting on them, adding more friends (circles), adding photos, videos .. all of these are already on Facebook. Yea a different approach is here, but that’s not good enough to penetrate the social market.

Awab Alvi -

Decent attempt by G+: I think Google must realize it specializes in “Search” maybe tapping the social network may help refine its search engines but it should not dabble too extensively and hope to edge into Facebook’s turf as it already has a 700 million head start. As I don’t think Google+ will trigger a mass exodus from Facebook, but it might start something like the slow food movement amongst social network.

Usman Latif -

I believe, for majority of the people, it will be just like maintaining another social network and that’s it. People are not going to move away from Facebook.

faisal.kapadia

Faisal Kapadia

A Karachi based writer who blogs at deadpanthoughts.com and tweets @faisalkapadia (twitter.com/faisalkapadia)

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Ramit Das

    i just wanna know how to get connected with google+ circleRecommend

  • http://www.brianshub.com/ Brian

    It looks like Wave with add-ons to me, it didn’t work the first time around Googs and it wont work this time.

    I want it to succeed but I just dont see it happen.Recommend

  • http://www.gmail.com Lanre Akinkunmi

    I’ve been expecting the Ultimate Search Engine to come out with a social network rivalling Facebook, Twitter…Anyway, we welcome you to the Global Network.Recommend

  • Taha Ali Adil

    if any one need Google Plus Invitation you can send you email at : xstrem_ice[at]yahoo.com

    ill send you request for Google Plus.Recommend

  • http://www.habibies.com Habibies

    No, and they are not allowing invitations i got this message:

    i got this message:
    At the moment, we’re testing with a small number of people, but it won’t be long before the Google+ project is ready for everyone. Leave us your email address and we’ll make sure that you’re the first to know when we’re ready to invite more people. :(Recommend

  • BushraS

    I’m so sick of facebook’s ever-changing and confusing private settings. If Google provides better control over my content, I’ll switch quickly. Recommend

  • http://wasioabbasi.wordpress.com Wasio Ali Khan Abbasi

    Google+ is amazing in many ways. I experimented with the circles and can safely claim that what you want your circle to see, only that will be visible to them. The drag-and-drop is much better than Facebook’s privacy settings and sharing options are good too. The interface is smooth.
    Due to lack of friends I am unable to test other features but once the circle is large enough it could be done. For the time being it seems like those with Gmail account are invited (or are able to join) much faster than those using any other email system. Only recently a friend asked me to send invite on his Yahoo account and for an hour nothing happened. I tried the unofficial invite system using his Gmail account and a minute later he was on Google+Recommend

  • Shoaib Memon

    Google plus project is cool :) Circles seems to be targetting Facebook, Hangouts aiming at Skype and Sparks trying on Twitter. Isn’t it interesting.. Follow me on twitter @shoaibgmRecommend

  • Ahmed Chawla

    I would disagree with Usman Latif. People use to say the same thing about Orkut. Now people dont even remember it. It’s high time people look for new medium for social media connections. And here comes GOOGLE +.Recommend

  • http://www.facebook.com/bramerz.pk Digital Media

    @Ramit Das: email Badar [ badar.khushnood @ gmail.com (remove spaces) ] – our very own one-many Google army in Pakistan.Recommend

  • Cher Bpt

    I am in marketing and manage clients FB pages. Getting an invite or open it up to everyone rather than having to read about what other peoples opinions would be helpful.

    One mans junk may be anothers mans treasure…Recommend

  • http://planmysite.com/ Tanika Nizova

    Watched the demo and would like to say it’s quite inspiring. Circles feature is amazing!Recommend

  • Bewildered

    Don’t forget the fate of WAVES before drawing any conclusion..Recommend

  • http://cstechnologynews.blogspot.com/2011/07/switch-from-facebook-to-google.html Saqib

    I like your post and I think Google+ will give taugh time to facebook.Recommend

  • http://anjana.zymichost.com Anjana Gopinath

    Need one free Google+ invite? Drop your email ids in the comment section of this page.
    http://anjana.zymichost.com/2011/07/need-google-pus-invite/Recommend

  • christianne hilgenberg
  • http://www.habloid.wordpress.com Habiba Younis

    I would love goodle plus only if they give the privacy options like the ones fb’s old version gave.Recommend

  • http://naeemnur.com Naeem

    Google+ Hangout will surely HANG Skype forever!Recommend

  • http://about.me/waisybabu Waisybabu

    Where do I +1 this article? ;)Recommend

  • Taha

    Sorry for late response, they are offering limited Invites, they are Accepting Gmail Accounts.

    but i am sending you invitation those send me email and mention there email address.Recommend

  • Sourav Kundu

    Giving Away Free Google+ invites till it lasts..Look into the blog http://crack-o-holic.blogspot.com/ for details !!Recommend

  • Muhammad Usman Iqbal
  • umair

    this is really nice.
    can someone also drop an invitation at my iD..thanks in advanceRecommend

  • Siddique Humayun

    I love it. Its simple and elegant. To top it, Google is in an attempt to unify its services. They have incorporated this black bar on most of their websites, including google.com and gmail inbox, so you can basically “share” anything you want on your Plus account from any of Google domains.

    Its sleek.Recommend

  • http://kamrextin.wordpress.com Kamil

    enough tech blogs out there to cover this for all geeks. This is redundant. Recommend

  • http://www.facebook.com/ahmednabeel Ahmed Nabeel

    ok plz send me invitation if u ve one yet…Recommend

  • Nazia

    I dont think , they will get great migration from Facebook to Google+ . Recommend

  • Eric
  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/asad-durrani/ Asad

    G+ is good but its gonna take time to get real…currently its just another browser tab, what I am expecting is the groups, pages, events and things like this need to be implemented as well. People are used to it. Recommend

  • http://www.mdkhan.com Muhammad Danish Khan

    basically, its faster but requires some more improvements like notifications are lil complex, chat is only allowed with already added Google users while it should for all +plus userRecommend